Dirty balconies, rude staff and many technical issues...Where do I begin?
We have just returned from cruise B504 departed 11APR 14 nights around the Mediterranean.
This was Britannia’s third official sailing, but it felt more like ... Read More
Dirty balconies, rude staff and many technical issues...Where do I begin?
We have just returned from cruise B504 departed 11APR 14 nights around the Mediterranean.
This was Britannia’s third official sailing, but it felt more like a shake down cruise.
We had a Balcony room on E deck (10th floor)
Bullet points are here with the Pros and Cons. Below this I have gone into more detail of each area to explain my findings, in my own opinion.
Excellent buffet design with plenty of seating.
Limelight lounge with entertainment. Good specialty dining in general. (additional cost)
The cookery school (additional cost)
Overpriced and under-delivered.
Some rude staff.
Dirty (balcony was never cleaned inside or out in two whole weeks) Covered in salt constantly.
So many technical issues for a new ship, too many "out of order" signs.
Hygiene extremely poor on board especially at buffet restaurant.
Extremely small balcony’s with too much furniture for it’s size.
Small theatre for size of ship with extremely poor sound quality.
Late night shows can be heard in your room (we were on deck 10 and theatre is Deck 6&7!) They were more concerned about show volume than guest sleeping - see comments below.
No staircase mid-ship - causes long delays in elevators (those that are working and not out of order!)
Not enough entertainment for sea days inside (especially considering its routes can encompass a considerable amount of poor weather)
On searching for a cruise for our holiday and after seeing all the publicity on this ship, I thought this would be the cruise for us. I work within the Travel industry and have experienced many different ships with various cruise lines. Overall, I feel this cruise was overpriced and that P&O where trying to cash in on its sudden popularity due to the publicity. I feel we were charged a premium price but not delivered a premium service. When speaking with other passengers, we found they had paid even less and were still unhappy. Due to service levels (or lack of) this is the first ever cruise I have removed gratuities from the room bill and chosen to give them directly to those who deserved them. Unfortunately some staff let the rest of their colleagues down with their attitude and rudeness . I am a polite person and respect those in the service industry and thus expect a standard level of service back, especially when you are paying for it.
On this cruise the general age group was of the mature ‘retired’ age range. We heard many of them saying how the ship was aimed at a younger age group and for families. I am surprised at this, as we felt the ship was certainly not family orientated. Firstly the ships’ decor is not that of a child friendly environment but, more of a yacht club or boutique hotel with all the cream coloured and light shades of furniture which would easily pick up marks as you would except from younger children. The ship decor suits all ages groups from young adults to older mature ones - but certainly not children. Having said that, the theatre entertainment was aimed more towards a younger age group (20-50). The songs and volume and graphics may appeal to a younger audience, its very loud and modern. We heard several passengers on our cruise discuss the entertainment and they did not know any of the songs or understand what was going on. Even the pre show background music was very modern (rap/pop).
"OUT OF ORDER!"
I have never been on a ship with so many "out of order" signs throughout the duration, and red and white tape blocking off areas due to some incident or maintenance. Lifts broken, hot water taps for tea broken, sinks for washing hands prior to Horizons broken (major hygiene issue), electric sliding doors broken (where you enter Horizons). All of this had an impacted on the enjoyment of this cruise. Especially where lifts were concerned for many of the passengers.
I have never been on any ship where I have overheard so many complaints and much disappointment.
We had a balcony room (with seat) Forward on DECK 10 - E deck. The decor was very pleasant and the bed was extremely comfortable. Good size flat screen tv.
Good choice of films and tv shows to watch on demand, but the live channels are lacking. Only BBC news and SKY news of current interest to watch. A little more choice here would be good to have.
Room equipped with kettle, tea/coffee and biscuits. All nice to have. Hairdryer in vanity draw.
Shame there are no individual reading lights at the head of the bed - you can only have the overhead lights on to read which can interfere if one of you wants to sleep and the other doesn’t.
Clothes 'walk-in' storage was a an excellent idea been closed off from main room - plenty of hanging space and a small cupboard with shelves and a safe for this items that don't need hanging.
Bathrooms - very compact and tight but well equipped! Lovely White Company products for hair and shower - very nice indeed. But trying to open and close the glass shower door while standing in bathroom - takes some various forms of contortionist moves to accomplish! The shower is of a good size, it's just the floor space of the bathroom itself that it not.
Balcony - extremely small. One pays a premium price for a balcony room so this was very disappointing. 2 reclining chairs (with no room at all to recline) That was a clever design fault! a foot stool and table. The foot stool is a waste of space as there is no room to use this or the table! On previous cruises we have had room service and eaten breakfast on the balcony, but unfortunately due to its size we were unable to enjoy this on Britannia. As previously mentioned above, the state of the balcony was disgusting. For the duration of the cruise the balcony was never cleaned or washed. We had rust appearing already and the glass and furniture was constantly covered in salt. The only way to sit out there was to place towels on the furniture, but even then your clothes would end up covered in salt, even if you lent on the balcony railing for a moment. We paid for a balcony and could hardly use it due to its size and filthy condition.
I would suggest a cabin higher up (if you don’t mind waiting for the lifts or walking!) As when retiring to bed early for an early morning port call the next day, the late show in the main theatre could be heard in our room! When reporting this to front desk, they informed us that the entertainment team where aware - but that it would alter the enjoyment of the show if they reduce the sound volume! They really didn’t care about my welfare for wanting to sleep on my holiday!
The first couple of nights we had poor sleep due to the amount of creaking noises in the cabin as the ship swayed crossing the Bay of Biscayne, we managed to silence some of it by inserting tissue into the gaps between walls and ceilings! Fortunately with calmer seas we didn’t experience that again until entering the english channel on the way home. I was therefore unable to call a technician to come and listen to it as suggested by the front desk , I just wish I had reported it soon after the first 2 nights.
On a positive note - Britannia has the best layout for a buffet restaurant I have seen. For a large ship it flows very well and we always found a table easily, even at busier breakfast periods. Hygiene, like much of the ship - is not enforced here. On embarkation staff were asking us to wash/sanitize hands - but this was the one and only time in 2 weeks! This is a hazard waiting to happen. Someone was even ill near us at one breakfast time and the area are was soon taped off with the familiar red and white tape. But still no hand washing was enforced. Utensils at the buffet were sticky and felt grimy - and I don’t think this was from food residue. I found myself frequently using the anti bacterial even after touching something! Come on Britannia, other ships can do it, why can’t you?
POOL DECK BAR AND GRILL
P&O should be commended for their new GRAB and Go options. A Fridge much like those found in a Pret or other coffee shop, stacked full with sandwiches, warps and salads - lots of healthy options and desserts - you can literally grab and go to eat on deck or back in your room. They also had little wrap ‘paste’ options opposite to grab - all very nice. Lunch was open from 12-4 each day. Prior to this a hot breakfast roll meat and veg option were available to grab at your convenience.
The Pizza Grill had two types of pizza on offer each day. These varied in quality the whole time and where sometimes rather pale and seemed under-baked - anaemic.
The Burger Grill had ready made burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken to pick up with bowls of fries or salad and condiments. Again a great idea to grab for speed without having to wait, but sadly on a few occasions we found the burger meat to be very ‘gristly'
The specialty restaurants we tried were very good indeed. Reasonable priced on a two week cruise, but I understand more expensive on a shorter cruise (which would make me think twice before using)
We never tried EPICUREAN as this was of much higher cost and always appeared near empty.
We visited SINDHU twice (once each week) this was excellent. The service was extremely slow on our second visit but was always polite and the food was of excellent quality and presentation.
We eat in the BEACH HOUSE one night (they convert an area of Horizons for this) this was ok but lacking in atmosphere as you still felt part of the buffet restaurant. You already pay a £5 cover charge for this one and yet certain dishes also have a further supplement.
We chose to visit the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE one night for the evening of food and entertainment. The special guest singer we saw was Kiki Dee, and she and her partner Carmelo Luggeri were excellent. It was our favourite night of the cruise. A fantastic show, enjoyed alongside an excellent meal with very friendly service.
The MARKET STREET CAFE offers delicious pastries by the amazing Eric Lanlard but sadly it always seemed very empty of customers. Lovely desserts, but a hard product to sell on a ship that has costa coffee two floors above offering free cakes/pastries.
The GLASS HOUSE - A restaurant with a supplement. However, We tried to order lunch here one day and I asked the waiter if it would be possible to have the trio of mini burgers (1 beef, 1 Lamb and 1 Pork) and if they could substitute the ‘pork’ one for another beef one instead due to dietary requirement. His response was ‘The chef will not accommodate and can only offer what is on the menu’. We cancelled our order and left immediately and went to eat in the free buffet upstairs. Surely in a chargeable restaurant, where the food is prepared to order, they could accommodate a simple request like that instead of forcing you to eat a meat you cannot. And pay extra for it!
JAVA - Serving Costa coffee. Nice atrium seating inside with and outside deck area too - excellent on those pleasant sea days and a brilliant spot for dolphin spotting. Mixed service here.
MAIN DINING - MERIDIAN
Our main dining we were assigned, was in the Meridian Restaurant on Freedom dining. When turning for a table, the maitre d’ Mohammed would give us a bleeper and we would be ‘buzzed’ within 10 -20 minutes for a table for 2. It was never much of a wait and he was always very friendly and professional. The service was always polite here and the wait staff were very good, it was just slow and that’s why we only ate here 3 times. The food choice was good and very enjoyable.
Where was it? The atrium was lacking an atmosphere and could have really benefited from a classical quartet like many ships or even a nightly pianist (a pianist only appeared here on one or two formal occasions). I was surprised that Britannia did not have classical quartet as I think they'd suit the ship well. The various singers around the ship were of mere ‘karaoke’ bar quality.
Main Theatre. Even the main shows in the theatre had sound quality issues with the singing. Some of the general cast sang better than the 4 billed main singers. If you wanted to see a 45 minute show you had to allow more almost 2 hours of your evening as you had to be at the theatre 40-45 minutes before a show if you wanted a half decent seat and not one in the front rows or to the far side or to be split up from your travelling partner. The sound was very poor and often too loud. On many occasions you could not hear the singers, be it a guest singer or Britannia employee, the instrumental parts were too over-powering. We noticed many people leaving shortly after a performance had begun, on one night we did the same as could not we could not tolerate the volume. The seats were far too narrow and quite uncomfortable.
During sea days there was very little entertainment choice for people. If the weather was poor outside and due to the vast number of cabins squeezed onboard, the public areas became very congested. We were happy to sit in our cabin reading, but would of loved the option to attend classes or an art studio. Other ships I have been on have offered painting classes and things such as flower arrangements and other crafting classes of interest. Britannia seemed to concentrate on spa seminars and jewellery talks. I know all cruise lines do this - but normally there is more on offer.
The Library on board had a good choice of new books but you had to get in early as it’s very small considering the size of the ship. And unlike other ships, hardly had any seating. In fact it can only accommodate about 6 people at a squeeze.
The Crow’s nest was an excellent venue, beautiful decor and with wonderful surround sea views. A good bar drinks menu and a perfect place to enjoy a Gin and Tonic with over 20 types available! The Silent Pool Gin was our favourite. However in the evenings we could not get a seat after a show due to its popularity
The Studio offered recent movies each evening in cinema style. This perhaps could have been utilised more on sea days.
The Crystal room offers a dance floor for classic dancing and is a beautiful area with lovely seating on deck 7 - we felt it was more of a walk through for people form mid ship to the staircase upwards from deck 7…we used it ourselves only for this purpose. Like The Market Cafe, it seemed like a waste of space as day or night it was never busy at any point on our cruise. Even with a more mature passenger group, there wasn’t much of an uptake for the classical form of dancing.
The Casino was tiny, but this is usual of a ship geared to the UK market, so was not surprised. This said, I would have expected a few more slot machines for the size of the ship.
Run by Rob Cottam, this was an excellent experience to partake in. We paid £100 per person for the chance to have a cookery course with Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar. We thoroughly enjoyed it and certainly learnt a few new things. We cooked soft shell crab for starter and crispy duck breast over Punjab stew for main, a pleasure to eat it afterwards - delicious! Rob and the other staff in there we all extremely helpful and knowledgeable and made the whole afternoon something we shall not forget. Thank you.
Plenty of outside space and seating areas. The ‘Silent Zone’’ for adults only was lovely - Peaceful with it’s own pool. There are many loungers around the outside decks 16-18 and choices of areas to sit.
The promenade for walking around on deck 18 is an odd position, and when trying to walk to be healthy - we frequently found ourselves breathing in vast quantities of exhaust fumes from the Funnels . Soot could even be seen covering the fabric of the outdoor sofas, which were dotted in black and brown, as was the deck floor itself. They looked in an awful state for a ship on its third sailing. The walk around the deck was open to the elements so best used in dry weather.
Very mixed service. Some were outstanding and others seemed lacking or even quite offensive at times. We decided to pay for a P&O shuttle bus in Valencia which ended up dropping us in the wrong area of town with no information about where we were or where to go, and when we asked the driver if this is the place to catch the return shuttle bus, the driver spoke no English but signalled by pointing to the exact spot her dropped us and repeatedly saying “here, every 20 minutes". My initial reaction was to take a photo of the bus, the square we were dropped us on my mobile. When we were ready to return back to the ship in the afternoon, we managed to return to the same spot the bus had dropped us at and waited for 45 min with no sign of a single shuttle bus - this caused us to panic and after about an hour, we contemplated hiring a taxi back.Eventually, we decided to walk up the road and were able to find the right pick up/drop off area (half a kilometre up the road). Immediately, we informed the P&O rep who was aware of this error as it occurred on the first two busses that morning, yet they never bothered to send any busses or staff at that drop off point to inform passengers! When we reported this stressful experience to the front desk employee, her immediate response was ‘what appears to be the problem then?’ followed by, “The pick up point was printed in your Horizons Magazine". Horizon’s did indeed state the street name, and we were on the correct street, but the street is no less than 5 km long! We had returned to our drop off point. Horizons did not give an exact location of the drop off/pick up point. 48 hours from reporting this to the front desk, we were finally refunded - but this was not offered, it was demanded by us. It’s the least they could do for the stress they put us through that afternoon, this was supposed to be a relaxing holiday. It was very irresponsible of P&O to allow such an error to happen.
The best service came from the cabin steward Hogan and from the wait staff in the Horizons buffet. Always greeted with a smile and helpful attitude.
It appears Britannia cannot make up its mind which market this ship is geared towards. I understand the marketing team had joined us onboard at the last port of call in Valencia, I’d say they have a tough job ahead.
If you are going to automatically add gratuities then staff should be polite at all times, gratuity is a reward for a job well done, it's earned and should not be expected. All the technical issues need fixing. Staff need lessons on politeness and attitude to customers, especially at the front desk. The hygiene/cleanliness issue (or lack of) needs to be dealt with immediately as currently the condition of the ship will only deteriorate sooner, if action is not taken immediately.
Perhaps the balcony cabins should be priced more competitively for their size. (As unfortunately it’s too late to do anything about enlarging them!)
It’s such a shame as this ship has the potential to be something big. P&O needs to get working on it now and remedy these issues immediately. There appears to be a pattern with all the reviews on this ship and its rating is dropping by the day. If I were to read the reviews here now, as I always do before booking a cruise, there is no way I would want to spend my heard earned money on such a vessel. At its current standard and pricing, I would advise against booking this ship. Read Less