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On-board activities: The TV in our cabin was the only real entertainment on sea days apart from a film, reading or walking – we don’t sunbathe/swim. We were expecting seminars / talks but there was almost nothing available and never any choice, unless it was to be given product marketing / sales talks. For example, on our first morning, we sat through a 40 minute talk on P&O’s shore excursions only to find when we went to book those that were of interest, they were already fully booked and hence unavailable. What a waste of our time! There was a definite lack of facilities for the large number of passengers on board. And where was the art lecture(s) and ‘sale’ that everyone told us would be available, as they are on all the ships? Shore excursions: Guernsey - Transfer ashore was by tender which went very smoothly for us, as we were booked on a tour, though we understand there were some delays in getting others ashore. We thought there could have been a more efficient transfer methodology, if tenders were available on both sides of the ship. Entertainment:- Theatre- this was too small to cater for the numbers on board even with up to three shows in an evening. The only way to get a seat was to arrive at least 30 mins before a show and this was almost impossible, if you are at a second sitting dinner!! Also, the seating was not sufficiently tiered meaning that where we had the fortune (or misfortune) to sit, the person immediately in front restricted our view of the stage, unless they were very short! All, but one, of the Headliners shows were excellent, featuring very strong singers, great dancers and amazing digital scenery. The ‘Once upon a time’ fantasy show was the disappointment; it had great performances but a very weak script. The other acts were very good, with the best being Gareth Oliver who was extremely funny and the worst being Jonathan Wilkes, who greatly disappointed us. Cinema- Tier arrangement was badly designed as the person in front of you always blocked part of the screen, unless you were sitting in the front row. Lifts: There were inadequate lifts available at busy periods. The problem was compounded by having three different sets of lifts which were not linked to each other or the demand. The four main lifts were connected to one call button and the two other lifts were quite independent of the four. Once passengers identified this, they pressed all three call buttons resulting in all three lifts arriving together at the floor. This seriously affected the movement of passengers. One evening we decided to walk up the stairs from Level 6 to Level 15 beating it to the top by a few seconds. Dining: We had the second sitting at the Oriental restaurant and the meals were delicious and varied. Our waiter and all the staff were very helpful. Our special dietary requirements were dealt with efficiently and in a caring manner. Full marks to the staff who were fully aware of our needs from the beginning. Embarkation: We chose to use P&O’s own coach transfer to Southampton. Unfortunately, our driver forgot one passenger on the way to our pick up and had to return for her. Then on arrival at South Mimms services 15 minutes late, promptly announced he was required to have a 45 minute break. This meant we departed 1 hour after the scheduled time. There was such slow traffic on the M25 that we arrived just before 4pm – well over 2 hours late, causing the ship’s departure to be delayed. However, our check-in and security went very smoothly, as we must have been among the last passengers to board. Disembarkation: - This went very smoothly and we were off the ship 30 minutes early. However, we cannot understand why we had to leave our suitcases outside our cabin by 8:30pm and before dinner the previous night. If we had been advised beforehand, we could have brought an overnight case, instead of trying to stuff our overnight things into a small rucksack!! Ship: Although a brand new ship, this ship lacked the ‘wow’ factor we had assumed Britannia would have, being P&O's flagship cruise liner. The décor was bland, grey and plastic, accurately described by the captain as, ’50 shades of grey’!! The ship gave us the impression that P&O had decided to cram in as many passengers as possible, to maximise profit at minimum cost to the company. This was our first cruise and we were really looking forward to it, as we had heard so many good stories from all our friends about the pleasures of cruising. Before booking (11 months before departure) we asked P&O a lot of relevant questions, as anyone embarking on their first cruise would. The answers were generally that the information we wanted e.g. on-board activities (especially during sea days), who was performing at the various venues, would be given to us in Horizons (the daily news letter) once we were on board. We assumed it would be similar to other cruises but it wasn’t and anyway, once booked it was too late to change our minds. All the hype over this new, state-of-the-art, technologically superior flag ship of the P&O fleet was never anything but a lot of hot air. We would have liked to share this review with P&O but they were somehow unable to deliver their post-cruise satisfaction questionnaire to us. It is done automatically and arrived as two blank emails. Customer support advised that if that fails, tough!!! Or maybe it was a deliberate ploy to avoid being criticised, yet they are quite capable of subsequently sending marketing info without problems! We will probably try another cruise but won’t be returning to the Britannia or P&O.

All Hype; No Substance!

Britannia Cruise Review by bandits2015

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2015
  • Destination: Europe
On-board activities: The TV in our cabin was the only real entertainment on sea days apart from a film, reading or walking – we don’t sunbathe/swim. We were expecting seminars / talks but there was almost nothing available and never any choice, unless it was to be given product marketing / sales talks. For example, on our first morning, we sat through a 40 minute talk on P&O’s shore excursions only to find when we went to book those that were of interest, they were already fully booked and hence unavailable. What a waste of our time! There was a definite lack of facilities for the large number of passengers on board. And where was the art lecture(s) and ‘sale’ that everyone told us would be available, as they are on all the ships?

Shore excursions:

Guernsey - Transfer ashore was by tender which went very smoothly for us, as we were booked on a tour, though we understand there were some delays in getting others ashore. We thought there could have been a more efficient transfer methodology, if tenders were available on both sides of the ship.

Entertainment:-

Theatre- this was too small to cater for the numbers on board even with up to three shows in an evening. The only way to get a seat was to arrive at least 30 mins before a show and this was almost impossible, if you are at a second sitting dinner!! Also, the seating was not sufficiently tiered meaning that where we had the fortune (or misfortune) to sit, the person immediately in front restricted our view of the stage, unless they were very short!

All, but one, of the Headliners shows were excellent, featuring very strong singers, great dancers and amazing digital scenery. The ‘Once upon a time’ fantasy show was the disappointment; it had great performances but a very weak script. The other acts were very good, with the best being Gareth Oliver who was extremely funny and the worst being Jonathan Wilkes, who greatly disappointed us.

Cinema- Tier arrangement was badly designed as the person in front of you always blocked part of the screen, unless you were sitting in the front row.

Lifts: There were inadequate lifts available at busy periods. The problem was compounded by having three different sets of lifts which were not linked to each other or the demand. The four main lifts were connected to one call button and the two other lifts were quite independent of the four. Once passengers identified this, they pressed all three call buttons resulting in all three lifts arriving together at the floor. This seriously affected the movement of passengers. One evening we decided to walk up the stairs from Level 6 to Level 15 beating it to the top by a few seconds.

Dining: We had the second sitting at the Oriental restaurant and the meals were delicious and varied. Our waiter and all the staff were very helpful. Our special dietary requirements were dealt with efficiently and in a caring manner. Full marks to the staff who were fully aware of our needs from the beginning.

Embarkation: We chose to use P&O’s own coach transfer to Southampton. Unfortunately, our driver forgot one passenger on the way to our pick up and had to return for her. Then on arrival at South Mimms services 15 minutes late, promptly announced he was required to have a 45 minute break. This meant we departed 1 hour after the scheduled time. There was such slow traffic on the M25 that we arrived just before 4pm – well over 2 hours late, causing the ship’s departure to be delayed. However, our check-in and security went very smoothly, as we must have been among the last passengers to board.

Disembarkation: - This went very smoothly and we were off the ship 30 minutes early. However, we cannot understand why we had to leave our suitcases outside our cabin by 8:30pm and before dinner the previous night. If we had been advised beforehand, we could have brought an overnight case, instead of trying to stuff our overnight things into a small rucksack!!

Ship: Although a brand new ship, this ship lacked the ‘wow’ factor we had assumed Britannia would have, being P&O's flagship cruise liner. The décor was bland, grey and plastic, accurately described by the captain as, ’50 shades of grey’!! The ship gave us the impression that P&O had decided to cram in as many passengers as possible, to maximise profit at minimum cost to the company. This was our first cruise and we were really looking forward to it, as we had heard so many good stories from all our friends about the pleasures of cruising.

Before booking (11 months before departure) we asked P&O a lot of relevant questions, as anyone embarking on their first cruise would. The answers were generally that the information we wanted e.g. on-board activities (especially during sea days), who was performing at the various venues, would be given to us in Horizons (the daily news letter) once we were on board. We assumed it would be similar to other cruises but it wasn’t and anyway, once booked it was too late to change our minds. All the hype over this new, state-of-the-art, technologically superior flag ship of the P&O fleet was never anything but a lot of hot air.

We would have liked to share this review with P&O but they were somehow unable to deliver their post-cruise satisfaction questionnaire to us. It is done automatically and arrived as two blank emails. Customer support advised that if that fails, tough!!! Or maybe it was a deliberate ploy to avoid being criticised, yet they are quite capable of subsequently sending marketing info without problems!

We will probably try another cruise but won’t be returning to the Britannia or P&O.
bandits2015’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin A235
The cabin was much smaller than we expected but with a comfortable Queen sized bed. In addition to the bed there was a chair for the dressing table, a small coffee table and a small armchair. The lack of space in front of the dressing table and alongside the bed meant that each night we had to move the chair and table to avoid tripping over it if we got up during the night. The dressing table had inadequate space on which to put our things. There was a small free standing mirror instead of using the wall behind the table to have a larger one! Obviously designed by a man, who hasn't a clue what ladies need when getting dressed up.
There was more than adequate hanging space for our clothes and plenty of hangers. However, there was no door to the hanging area and when you came out of the shower room to dry yourself (not enough room inside), you were up against your neatly hung, clean clothes.
The bathroom was small and cramped with a long but narrow shower that was not easily accessed through the narrow, glass door. I'm not a big bloke, but I did struggle with drying space after exiting the shower and eventually resorted to drying off in the cabin. There were no bathrobes (told they were provided as standard on other cruise ships) and when we requested one, I was told by a receptionist that these were only available for suite passengers.
There was a good size TV and selection of things to watch but it could only really be viewed properly from on the bed. Also, we were rather disappointed that on such a modern ship, they hadn’t added a screen option showing our account information. We had to queue and ask at reception! The bland cabin décor was not conducive to anyone staying in the cabin more than necessary. The cabin was warm enough and the temperature could be easily controlled with the wall thermostat.
Our balcony was far too small to allow both of us to sit on the two chairs to face the sun and enjoy the views.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews