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4 Southampton to Spain P&O Cruises Britannia Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise to sample cruising. A week on board Britannia to see if we like it. All I can say is that it was good in parts. The bad bits first. The main pool area was a zoo. The buffet restaurant was like a service station ... Read More
We chose this cruise to sample cruising. A week on board Britannia to see if we like it. All I can say is that it was good in parts. The bad bits first. The main pool area was a zoo. The buffet restaurant was like a service station canteen. The Serenity zone was separated from the zoo by a glass partition and in no sense of the word could it be called serene. There were hail sized black oily smuts coming from the funnel that covered the deck, sun loungers, passengers and upper handrails. Oh and the widespread outbreak of a gastro-intestinal bug!!! The not so bad: cabins on A deck near the rear suffer from people running on the deck above (Sunset bar) and scraping furniture around until all hours of the morning. Ship layout means you cannot access all parts from all the lifts (cannot get to restaurants from rear lifts). Good bits: service, food quality in the Peninsula restaurant, entertainment, ride quality, cabin size and quality, drink quality (price ok), decor, crew. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I really can't understand the negative comments about Britannia. We booked our Iberian cruise in order to celebrate our friends Golden Wedding and a birthday and based upon the very mixed reviews, we retained open minds but wondered ... Read More
I really can't understand the negative comments about Britannia. We booked our Iberian cruise in order to celebrate our friends Golden Wedding and a birthday and based upon the very mixed reviews, we retained open minds but wondered whether we had chosen wisely as the less than positive comments kept on coming. We needn't have worried at all - our party of four thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the eleven night cruise and would gladly re-book this fantastic vessel in future. We took advantage of free parking at Southampton and followed the instructions to arrive in time for our allocated boarding slot at 3.00 pm. At first we were a little perturbed at the length of the queue for the parking facility and doubted whether we would indeed be boarding on-time however, we were soon underway and after registering, the car was taken away and our bags were loaded onto the porter's trolley allowing us to enter the terminal at 3.00 pm. Unfortunately we encountered a 90 minute delay due to a technical problem with the gangway but once we had checked in, boarding was pretty slick. We boarded at deck 5 and arrived into the very impressive atrium with it's rather extravagant centre piece lighting feature and immediately we were struck with the splendour of the ship. We were directed to our cabins D219 and D223 and found them without any problem. Our luggage had arrived and first impressions of the cabin were extremely favourable. The hanging open fronted wardrobe space is a great feature and the 30 wooden coat hangers easily met our needs. The bathroom is cosy but the shower cubicle with glass door was larger than we have experienced on NCL, MSC and Cunard. The bed was nice and firm and the pillows were excellent quality. The wall mounted TV was a good size and created quite a feature within the room. My wife loved the use of mirrors - two long length and one on the dressing table - and the coffee facility and decent sized fridge were a welcome facility. The balcony has two reclining chairs and a small table and although small, there was plenty of room for two. The colours in use throughout Britannia are fairly neutral and they work very well in all areas. We opted for freedom dining and as such had the use of Meridian and Peninsular restaurants for waiter served meals and quite genuinely, all four of us had excellent food and service throughout our cruise. The menu choices and quality of ingredients certainly appealed to our rather discerning tastes and we were all at a loss to understand the level of criticism aimed at the food in many of the previous reviews. The waiting staff are almost all Indian and although the command of English did vary, we didn't find it to be a problem. The Horizon buffet we found to be equally impressive with plenty of seating and a vast choice of food which changed daily. We always found the food to be hot, well presented and regularly restocked and we rarely had to queue or participate in a bun fight like we have experienced on other cruise lines. I would summarise Horizon as being equal to the very best of buffet restaurants in the UK and far better than the vast majority. A good facility is the serve yourself beer and wine station where you simply swipe your cruise card and help yourself. Tea, coffee and juices facilities are plentiful. We experienced Horizon at breakfast, lunch and dinner although our preference was always Meridian or Peninsular. The Indian food buffet night was particularly good with chicken tikka masala a real star of the show. We planned special nights in Sindhu, The Limelight Club and the Epicurian and we were delighted with the value for money from the extra cover charges. Sindhu provided for a fine dining experience in a quality environment; Limelight delivered live entertainment from Dean Andrews (Singer and Actor) and good quality but limited choice of food in a sophisticated club atmosphere and Epicurian is as good as it gets in a Michelin starred type of experience. In our opinion, all of these venues at worth we very penny of the supplementary charges. Around the pools on deck 16 we also tried the burger, chips and salad "takeaway" and the Grab & Go where we enjoyed a variety of sandwiches, rolls and wraps. Our favourite for pre-dinner drinks was the Crows Nest and we eventually got to watch the opening Rugby World Cup match in Brodies pub - unfortunately we missed the first 30 minutes due to "technical difficulties". The Glasshouse (Olly Smith's creation) was a great venue for quality wine sessions and we enjoyed a well informed wine tasting session for £15 each on one of our sea days. Surprisingly, the Costa Coffee lounge was very well attended and considering there is a charge for the products we could rarely find a seat. The girls also booked the Cookery School for a two hour instruction from James Martin and needless to say, they were both very complementary about his culinary skills - I think that's what they were referring to!! We also bumped into Marco Pierre White on board as well as Jenny Eclair and Greg Rutherford who were involved in filming for the new MPW television programme. The casino is small but adequate. Now, the thing that really puzzles me is the people who say that Britannia is too big and too difficult to get around - to them I say, choose a smaller vessel or read the information and work it out for yourself! We didn't have a problem at all and neither did we experience a problem with the lifts - just accept that if you all pile out of the theatre at the same time, there will be bottle necks! If I have one irritation it is with the prepaid wine packages. We opted for the Captain's selection at £200 for 12 bottles which provided good choice at a reasonable discount but with hindsight, the drinks are pretty reasonable at full price and we experienced some confusion trying to order with the vouchers from anywhere except the Main restaurants. We were almost made to feel like we were inconveniencing the waiters every time we tried to order elsewhere. I think that the wine voucher system needs some tweeking. Overall the drinks are priced at about UK high street range a with draft beers and lagers about £3.95 a pint; decent spirits at about £2.95 a shot and a large glass of wine £6.25. It was refreshing to see the P&O don't add a service charge to the drinks bill unlike other lines. Room service is particularly good on Britannia. We used it several times and on one occasion ordered a litre bottle of Grey Goose vodka for a very competitive £30.00. Mixers were £10.00 for a dozen small cans. We saw Jimmy James in the Headliner theatre for our fix of soul and Motown; we also attended the interviews for MPW and James Martin and again, we planned our arrival to ensure that we got a good seat. If you leave it to the last minute, expect to stand. We loved the Headliner theatre and the acoustics. The Live Lounge provided good "adult entertainment" from a brilliant comedian whose name escapes me. Apart from Vigo, we arranged our own shore trips and would advise anyone that there are almost always options to go it alone by rebooking direct with local agents via the Internet or simply looking at the options in each port when you arrive. It works out much cheaper if you are brave enough to take a chance. The highlight of our trip was the magnificent sail away from Gibraltar - what a stirring and patriotic experience thanks to the very enthusiastic Entertainment team. Well done to all Britannia staff - you made this experience one to remember and we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Excellent organisation from valet parking, to luggage loading and embarkation. We were with toddler and grandparents and it all worked out well. Room steward welcomed us and was very pleasant throughout the trip. He attended the cabin ... Read More
Excellent organisation from valet parking, to luggage loading and embarkation. We were with toddler and grandparents and it all worked out well. Room steward welcomed us and was very pleasant throughout the trip. He attended the cabin three times a day and was always on hand to give advice. The cabin itself was with balcony, well appointed, very comfortable bed and compact as you would expect. We chose freedom dining but actually never used it as the buffet suited us better with the needs of our toddler takign over. The food and service was excellent and the waiters and chefs made a fuss over baby. Ports of call were enjoyable (Guernesey, Coruna, Bilbao, La Rocelle). We didn't opt for excursions so mosied around independently. The tender to Guernsey was well organised, we were able to walk off ship into town in Coruna and buses were laid on in Bilbao and La Rochelle. The kids clubs were excellent and again well organised withe excellent staff and facilities. Our child not being two yet meant that we had to stay with her, but over two's can register for the clubs with supervision while parents can go off and leave them. Overall, we enjoyed our experience. The ship was very comfortable, staff were friendly and helpful, organisation was excellent and facilities very good. We would recommend and travel on Brittania again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Embarkation :- Arrived at Southampton early due to light traffic, at 10.45. Bags unloaded and car taken away, we were directed upstairs at the Ocean Terminal where we were given a boarding card with the letter B on, and were informed that ... Read More
Embarkation :- Arrived at Southampton early due to light traffic, at 10.45. Bags unloaded and car taken away, we were directed upstairs at the Ocean Terminal where we were given a boarding card with the letter B on, and were informed that check-in would not be opening until 12 noon at the earliest, an hour and a quarter away. We hadn't experienced such a delay previously with P&O or any other cruise line, and subsequently there were hundreds of people in the terminal by the time they did open up, which was about 12.10. However when we did check in we were then treated to a security process which involved taking off belts , shoes, watches etc, which caused a further delay...not a great start. Once on board we went to the Horizon restaurant on 16 for a spot of lunch, after which the cabins were ready. Cabins :- We were on E Deck (level 10, cabin 402) with a balcony cabin. Lets get the same old points out of the way....Yes the bathroom is tiny and has a large shower with a very low pressure. I'm not a big bloke but did struggle with drying space after exiting the shower. There is no hand wash dispenser over the sink as on other ships, but there is one in the shower which is NOT a hair and body wash. P & O now supply a separate shampoo bottle for you. There is a large amount of hanging space with sufficient hangers, and plenty of other storage space. Yes there are no bedside cabinets, but the desk area does extend across on one side (be careful you don,t bang your elbows). Yes the lighting is strange....you haven't individual bedside lamps so its all or nothing regarding the lights. Also yes the balconies are small compared to other lines, but are comparable to other P & O ships and the furniture is of much better quality. As I think others have mentioned, the TV does not have a bill checking facility on it, which does mean you have to go to reception if you require an account statement at any time. We did notice that on the balcony the separation screens did bang around in the wind against the chairs and had damaged the screens on both sides. Overall being new the cabin was spotless our luggage arrive quickly. Dining :- We ate breakfast and lunch in Horizon (on 16), and dinner was taken in Meridian on 5, as we were allocated Freedom Dining. The food was generally very good....obviously you always get nights where the menu varies and therefore some are better than others, and the service was good. We thought that the layout in the Horizon buffet was much better than other ships, with none of the one-way system which causes so much congestion. On entry you know have hand washing stations rather than the gel stations, although they do still have these at the food side. The speciality dining venues we didn't use so cant comment on them. Entertainment :- The Headliners shows were excellent and unique to Britannia, featuring 4 very strong singers, and amazing digital scenery.The other acts were very good, with the best being Gareth Oliver who is very funny. You will need to get to the theatre at least 30 minutes before the performance starts to get a good seat, as the venue fills up very quickly. We also went to the live lounge and saw a Phil Collins tribute act who was very good. The main reason we went to the Live Lounge several times, was the resident band Pulse....they are without a doubt the best band I've seen on board any ship. We didn't use the Limelight Club as we thought that at £22 per head, it was a bit steep, plus we had already seen one of the acts ,Jakki Graham, on other ship for free, and the other act, Madeline Bell, wasn't really our cup of tea. However it seemed busy on the nights we walked by. If you want a quieter venue after dinner, then try the Crows nest bar forward on deck 16. Other Facilities :- Yes lets talk Lifts !!! Our cabin was midships and therefore we needed to use the central block of lifts....yes there is no staircase. This can cause some waits at busy times which can be annoying, particularly if you're like us, and tend to use the stairs. For emergency drills they do open a set of doors centrally revealing a central staircase which is normally for crew use. Ports :- Guernsey - Great planning by P & O brought us here on a Sunday when all the shops are shut. However there was the first in a series of crafts markets along the front in St Peter Port for those requiring to shop. Transfer here is by tender which all went very smoothly for us, though I understand there were some delays in getting people ashore. La Coruna :- Very nice city with glass balconied buildings. A walk across the town brings you to a beach where we walked along towards the lighthouse, around the headland and back into town. Its about a 5 mile hike but it does take you past trails taking you to various Celt sculptures (one is a copy of stonehenge), a past some lovely beaches. There's a very attractive typical Spanish square with plenty of restaurants and bars, and good shopping area with excellent prices for goods compared to the UK. Bilbao :- The ship moors about 20-30 minutes from the city and free coach transfers are provided. Bilbao is a very interesting venue with a visit to the Guggenheim museum a must. We also took the Big Red Bus tour which last about an hour and is good value as you get a commentary. La Rochelle :- Again the ship docks about 30 minutes from the town, and a free transfer was provided, but this was by a normal service bus . This had an extremely low number of seats forcing the majority to stand, including the more senior amongst us, with no on board air conditioning. In my view it is dangerous to have 50 people standing on this journey and P & O need to re-think this as its their duty of care to ensure safety. My advice would be that if there's a group of you...take a taxi and share the cost. The town itself is very picturesque and well worth visiting, with cobbled streets and variety of shops, restaurants and bars. There was a street market in progress and also a large fair was setting up which caused some walking restrictions. Debarkation :- Was trouble free and we were let off 30 minutes early. Overall Impression : - Britannia is an excellent ship and being new, is spotless. The entertainment is excellent and obviously P & O has worked hard to get the best acts on board. Yes there are some niggling issues and differences from other ships in the fleet, but we would definitely travel on her again. The itinerary is very good and we chose this one as we hadn't been to the ports visited. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Britannia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 5.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 5.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.2
Service 5.0 3.9
Value For Money 5.0 3.5
Rates 5.0 N/A

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