Just returned back from Britannia with a group of family members, 8 of us in 4 cabins, having sailed to Norway and the Fjords on Britannia's maiden voyage there. We were celebrating various family milestones of special birthdays and anniversaries etc. My wife and I are regular cruisers but have never previously been with PO but have stayed loyal to Celebrity for many years. However my sister who is a regular PO cruiser wanted us to enjoy the delights of the new ship Britannia! Initially we were anticipating a wonderful ship having seen all of the pre-cruise hype with the advertising and promotions etc.
However, despite really wanting to be overwhelmed, sadly that did not turn out to be the case! The ship certainly did have some very nice public rooms and the deck area was spacious and well laid out. However it was disappointing that there was no covered swimming area save in the rather expensive spa area. The food was generally of a good standard and as we were a party of 8 we mainly ate in the Oriental Restaurant in the evenings. The menu was quite good but on several occasions we had to resort to the regular/popular section of the menu to find something everyone liked! the food in the buffet for breakfast and lunch were, however, of a very good standard.
So in brief the good things:
- Embarkation and disembarkation was fine and not a problem.
- Food was generally good.
- Some of the public rooms were very well appointed.
- The outside deck area with the swimming pools was good.
- Some of the individual entertainers were very good. Singers/violinist etc.
- The destinations were very good and we chose good shore excursions.
Now for the reasons I will almost certainly not travel on this ship again sadly:
- Movement around the ship. We were on deck 11 midships. There are no stairs in the midships other than on decks 5-7. The lifts are too small; were often full when arriving at your floor or worse; just simply out of order!
- The cabin was very noisy and vibrated so much that the water in a glass on the bedside table actually moved! I asked our cabin steward why the noise was so bad and he said he was not able to answer that question! I really have no idea why this is the case. We were on a deck in the middle of the ship and half way up. The ambient noise was so bad that even with ear plugs it was difficult to drown out the incessant humming. It felt like we were in the engine room! We did notice an unnatural vibration all over the ship which I have never experienced on any other ship before. We have sailed some 32 sailings with other lines. The fixtures and fittings seemed to be of an inferior quality and just in our few cabins, (and not from any heavy handedness from ourselves I can assure you), the towel hand rail fell off the door, and in my sister's cabin the shower fitting also came away from the shower!
- The bathrooms were extremely small. The shower itself was fine but then you had to turn in to a contortionist to try to dry yourself once out of the shower! I am not a large person - heaven help any one over 12 stone!
- There were many 'out of order' signs all over the ship. No doubt there are some serious teething problems going on. The public toilets were regularly affected by these signs with the female members of our group shocked by the lack of available toilets. I myself found that on one evening a toilet was overflowing and spilling out all over the toilet floor and several urinals were blocked. One welsh gentleman remarked that it was usual to see women queuing for toilets but now the men have to as well. (It was funnier in a Welsh accent!).
- The Theatre! Don't get me started! It's not big enough P&O! Badly designed by someone who has never been on a ship possibly!
- The Crows Nest, a favourite spot in the evening for a pre or post dinner drink was far too small. Nearly always unable to get a table or seat.
- The cinema. Unable to get a view of more than 2/3rds of the screen if you're lucky!
- The staff we found were generally friendly enough but no-one seemed to want to go out of their way to be engaging. The captain seemed serious but professional. Of course no doubt he has a lot on his mind! It was quite stark to hear almost silence in the theatre when the entertainment host asked if everyone was enjoying the beautiful ship Britannia!
I realize I have rambled on a bit here and that this review (the first I have ever felt the need to write) may seem a little disjointed for which I apologise! My sister, who is a staunch P&O fan also was amazed at the problems we had and said that she would not wish to sail on this particular ship again either. Of course they may have to give away cabins at ridiculously low prices eventually to encourage people to go on this ship so who knows!
I am not put off P&O completely and would be open to trying one of their other ships possibly - but sadly not this one again!