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This was our first ever cruise with P&O having enjoyed Princess once and Celebrity many times. We tried it because old friends whom we had met on Princess and are firm Princess/P&O cruisers - agreed that we would get together on Britannia to give this new ship a try over Xmas - New Year. After a month we can now reflect on the experience. As we live across the Irish Sea we had to fly to Manchester the night before and stayed in the Radisson as it was linked to the terminal. It was a good choice. We flew out on the Friday on Thomas Cook's refurbished 330. (See separate review on Airlinequality.com) and went for Premium Economy which was fine apart from P&O's money gouging seat choice charges. Flight was on time and bussing at Barbados was smooth. Our friends' flight from Gatwick was on time too and we hooked up mid afternoon on board. Overall we were impressed with the flight/baggage arrangements. The cabin (or as Celebrity calls it - the stateroom!) was smallish but adequate and the clothes hanging arrangements were good. Shower etc were more than adequate even for a big guy! The bed was very comfortable and the lighting arrangement while not ideal did not irritate us. The size of balcony was not a problem for 2 of us. Our cabin steward was an efficient and pleasant lady - our only cabin problem was a non flushing loo that was promptly fixed. We are not sun people so had no issues trying to get loungers. What we did appreciate was the adults only area and pool which I used most evenings around 4-5pm to swim lengths - I really miss this on Celebrity's Solstice class ships. We had no real problems finding our way around the ship although the 'much talked of' lack of central staircase is a little bemusing at first. There were rarely delays getting the lifts except after shows or similar and then a few minutes max. We thought the atrium was elegant and restrained - although inevitably we heard other passengers complain of lack of a 'wow' factor. Not sure why that is wanted or necessary. There was good use of space. We failed to get fixed dining and this was an annoyance having booked nearly 18 months in advance. The waiting times for the Peninsular varied enormously and on the first formal night there were delays of over an hour leading to some heated rows at the restaurant desk. We found that the Meridian on Deck 5 was better organised and had far shorter waiting times. On Xmas and NYE night there were fixed timings allocated - clearly a recognition that freedom dining needs a rethink on its management. The food was pretty good in our opinion although some of the waiters seemed rather undermotivated - others were delightful. Most lunchtimes we used the buffet and were rather underwhelmed. However we did master the wine machine! We tried out both Sindhu and the Epicurean and were delighted with both. Indeed we tried to rebook Sindhu but could not get in again. Thankfully had made both bookings online in advance. Every night we inhabited the Crow's Nest and found it an excellent spot with great service and well motivated staff. The library was first rate as a library and as the internet location. We bought a package in advance for the extra minutes and the speed was ok both in the cabin on I-Pad as well as in the library on their PCs. They kindly allowed me to print off our favourite daily crossword each day! Entertainment was a bit of a mixed bag and we enjoyed the one off Xmas show in particular. Unfortunately for us there were too many 'tribute acts' which are not our thing but many enjoyed. The Xmas Day Church Service was nicely done and very inclusive. Guest lecturer Dicky Arbiter had four sessions and was excellent even though poorly attended. He had been on the inaugural Britannia cruise I think and had filled the theatre but a different mix on board on that cruise. We only booked one P&O shore excursion on Grand Cayman because of the tendering there. It really was not good enough to tell those booked for 12 noon to look after themselves especially as the tendering had backed up so badly. Elsewhere we did our own thing or stayed on the ship. The big sailaway was a bit of an eye opener but by and large was good fun. Flying home day was quite pleasant in being able to stay aboard until midday and then head for the airport. The flight back was as seamless as coming out - although Manchester Airport at 4.30 am is not a lot of fun! Thankfully FlyBE allowed us to change to the first flight home at no charge. So - in summary - we enjoyed the cruise immensely and overall enjoyed the ship and the crew. Apart from the dining delays earlier on we had no complaints. Yes it is a big vessel - but MSC has just announced building two new ships carrying 6,300 passengers each! The charter arrangements worked well and the baggage transfer was a bonus. P&O is very focused on the UK market and serves it well - maybe this makes the experience a little claustrophobic. However our friends ensured that it was a memorable cruise for us all and we need to do it again - if we agree on the cruise line!

Much to Enjoy

Britannia Cruise Review by ian67

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2015
  • Destination: Caribbean
This was our first ever cruise with P&O having enjoyed Princess once and Celebrity many times. We tried it because old friends whom we had met on Princess and are firm Princess/P&O cruisers - agreed that we would get together on Britannia to give this new ship a try over Xmas - New Year. After a month we can now reflect on the experience.

As we live across the Irish Sea we had to fly to Manchester the night before and stayed in the Radisson as it was linked to the terminal. It was a good choice. We flew out on the Friday on Thomas Cook's refurbished 330. (See separate review on Airlinequality.com) and went for Premium Economy which was fine apart from P&O's money gouging seat choice charges.

Flight was on time and bussing at Barbados was smooth. Our friends' flight from Gatwick was on time too and we hooked up mid afternoon on board. Overall we were impressed with the flight/baggage arrangements.

The cabin (or as Celebrity calls it - the stateroom!) was smallish but adequate and the clothes hanging arrangements were good. Shower etc were more than adequate even for a big guy! The bed was very comfortable and the lighting arrangement while not ideal did not irritate us. The size of balcony was not a problem for 2 of us. Our cabin steward was an efficient and pleasant lady - our only cabin problem was a non flushing loo that was promptly fixed.

We are not sun people so had no issues trying to get loungers. What we did appreciate was the adults only area and pool which I used most evenings around 4-5pm to swim lengths - I really miss this on Celebrity's Solstice class ships.

We had no real problems finding our way around the ship although the 'much talked of' lack of central staircase is a little bemusing at first. There were rarely delays getting the lifts except after shows or similar and then a few minutes max.

We thought the atrium was elegant and restrained - although inevitably we heard other passengers complain of lack of a 'wow' factor. Not sure why that is wanted or necessary. There was good use of space.

We failed to get fixed dining and this was an annoyance having booked nearly 18 months in advance. The waiting times for the Peninsular varied enormously and on the first formal night there were delays of over an hour leading to some heated rows at the restaurant desk. We found that the Meridian on Deck 5 was better organised and had far shorter waiting times. On Xmas and NYE night there were fixed timings allocated - clearly a recognition that freedom dining needs a rethink on its management. The food was pretty good in our opinion although some of the waiters seemed rather undermotivated - others were delightful. Most lunchtimes we used the buffet and were rather underwhelmed. However we did master the wine machine!

We tried out both Sindhu and the Epicurean and were delighted with both. Indeed we tried to rebook Sindhu but could not get in again. Thankfully had made both bookings online in advance.

Every night we inhabited the Crow's Nest and found it an excellent spot with great service and well motivated staff.

The library was first rate as a library and as the internet location. We bought a package in advance for the extra minutes and the speed was ok both in the cabin on I-Pad as well as in the library on their PCs. They kindly allowed me to print off our favourite daily crossword each day!

Entertainment was a bit of a mixed bag and we enjoyed the one off Xmas show in particular. Unfortunately for us there were too many 'tribute acts' which are not our thing but many enjoyed. The Xmas Day Church Service was nicely done and very inclusive.

Guest lecturer Dicky Arbiter had four sessions and was excellent even though poorly attended. He had been on the inaugural Britannia cruise I think and had filled the theatre but a different mix on board on that cruise.

We only booked one P&O shore excursion on Grand Cayman because of the tendering there. It really was not good enough to tell those booked for 12 noon to look after themselves especially as the tendering had backed up so badly. Elsewhere we did our own thing or stayed on the ship.

The big sailaway was a bit of an eye opener but by and large was good fun.

Flying home day was quite pleasant in being able to stay aboard until midday and then head for the airport. The flight back was as seamless as coming out - although Manchester Airport at 4.30 am is not a lot of fun! Thankfully FlyBE allowed us to change to the first flight home at no charge.

So - in summary - we enjoyed the cruise immensely and overall enjoyed the ship and the crew. Apart from the dining delays earlier on we had no complaints. Yes it is a big vessel - but MSC has just announced building two new ships carrying 6,300 passengers each! The charter arrangements worked well and the baggage transfer was a bonus.

P&O is very focused on the UK market and serves it well - maybe this makes the experience a little claustrophobic. However our friends ensured that it was a memorable cruise for us all and we need to do it again - if we agree on the cruise line!
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