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Summary We cruised on Britannia in Feb 16, cruise B604, and had followed the negative reviews on Cruise Critic with some concern prior to travel. Given our very enjoyable cruise, I thought I would try to re-dress the balance by providing a full review of the many aspects of Britannia my wife and I experienced. Overall we felt Britannia met our high expectations of a new large ship and we were very happy with virtually all aspects of the cruise. Flight & Embarkation We flew with Thomas Cook from Manchester on an Airbus A330 and enjoyed a smooth comfortable flight with good service from the cabin crew. There was plenty of leg room and the food was of a reasonable quality. We arrived in Barbados ahead of scheduled and were transferred directly from the plane to the ship without having to pass through the airport, which was great. We arrived ahead of most flights, so our check-in was very quick with virtually no queuing. Having checked in our luggage at Manchester we next saw it in our cabin at around 6.30pm which was a few hours after embarkation and in time for us to unpack prior to our evening meal. Overall we thought the process was very efficient and a good start to the holiday. Ship, Facilities and Cabin As you would expect with any large ship, the facilities are varied and I personally feel there was something for everyone on-board Britannia. Having cruised before on Ruby Princess and Independence of the Seas, both of a similar size and passenger numbers, we knew what to expect in terms of scale and organisation so were not surprised by Britannia’s size or the number of people on board. The décor around the ship is muted brown, beige & blue tones which gives the ship a very modern and stylish feel which for us provided a nice point of difference to other ships. The number of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues is excellent providing a good choice and different options each day. Deck and pool areas were sizeable but as expected were very busy on sea days, although less so on port days. The main pool area (with 2 pools) is also an entertainment venue with music played most of the day and occasional quizzes and sail-away parties. The Serenity pool provided a quieter venue for sun-bathing although was equally busy as the main pool. There was a further smaller pool area which was quieter at the back of the ship, although in school holidays this area is reserved for teenagers. We enjoyed sitting around the various pools, using different locations as our mood took us. Many have commented negatively about the lack of a Promenade deck, but to be honest I really don’t understand the issue! If you want to walk around the ship, a full circuit can be completed outside by walking on Deck 17 at the front of the ship and Deck 18 at the back of the ship. Others have also commented negatively about the lack of stairs mid-ship. I agree to some extent that this is a slight inconvenience, but it really wasn’t a big issue. There are plenty of lifts and whilst at peaks times they were busy most people saw the funny side of trying to squeeze as many people into a lift as possible, rather than it being a point to complain, although we never managed the supposed 18 capacity. We had a Balcony Cabin which was more than big enough for the 2 of us, was attractively decorated and with a large TV and the balcony was fine for sitting out or viewing the sail into port. The bed was extremely comfortable and we both slept much better than at home! There was more than enough hanging space and hangers provided. Service Service in virtually all aspects was excellent. Our cabin steward, Oliver, was friendly and happy to chat when we saw him. He looked after us extremely well ensuring our cabin was always clean and tidy and all services provided promptly often tidying our room in the short time we were at breakfast. Service was excellent in the Epicurean and Sindhu restaurants and The Limelight Club and generally very good in the Meridian Dining Room. One issue we encountered in the Meridian was that quite often the starter was served before the wine had been arrived, so we often had to chase down the wine waiter to get the wine delivered. I think the issue is caused by a lack of wine waiters, who take orders, collect bottles and bring them to the serving area as well as having to serve wine to a large number of tables. A few additional wine waiters would easily solve the issue. Drinks service by the Serenity Pool was excellent, with waiters walking around the pool taking orders throughout the day and serving promptly (and somehow managing to get the right drinks to every person as if by some mystical power!) Bars & Restaurants There were a very good variety of bars from Brodies English bar to the Crows Nest Cocktail lounge. We often avoid the English bar, purely down to personal taste so only went towards the end of the cruise but wish we had gone earlier. The range of beers was fantastic, including a local beer from our home town! The Crows Nest serves excellent cocktails but if you enjoy Gin then this is the place for you as there is a whole menu dedicated to Gin! We also had pre-dinner drinks in the Sunset bar, the Glass House and Blue Bar all of which we enjoyed. We tried all the eating venues as we like to vary where and what we eat. Our favourite restaurant was Sindhu, which provided a stand-out meal. My wife & I love Indian food, but this meal was on a completely different scale! The Epicurean restaurant was also excellent with very good food and service, with a very modern style. We also ate in the Limelight Club and The Beach House, both which provided a different dining experience and we both enjoyed very much. The Beach House was great for a more casual meal, with sizzling plates, skewers and steaks on offer. One small niggle was that The Beach House did not accept bookings and as a consequence we were not able to get a table at a sensible time, twice being told there was a wait time of 1 hour 45 minutes! The food in the Meridian Dining Room was very good, with the menu providing enough choice each evening and with sensible portion sizes. We were Freedom Dining but due to our preferred dining time, we often had to take pager as tables for 2 were not always available. Unfortunately that meant we had to have another pre-dinner drink (oh dear but never mind!) The Glass House was a lovely place to have a pre-dinner drink watching the world go by, but is also excellent for food. One evening we each had a flight of wines and shared 6 Tapas dishes, which was excellent with very generous portions. We only ate in the buffet for breakfast and for mid-afternoon snacks and found the choice of food good and well prepared. The buffet was always busy, and seating near to serveries was always occupied, but there were plenty of seating away from the main servery areas and we always managed to find a quiet corner. The waiting staff are constantly moving around the restaurant promptly clearing tables and resetting for the next guests. Entertainment Entertainment was generally of a high standard. We particularly enjoyed Pulse, the resident house band, who played most evening in the Live Lounge. This was a popular venue and became very busy as the evening progressed but if you were prepared to stand and wait for a few minutes then tables and chairs did become available as people moved on to other venues. We went into the Theatre on 4 occasions and saw the cruise company shows plus an Annie Lennox tribute, who was superb. Again the Theatre was busy, but as there were generally 3 shows each evening we never had any trouble finding a good seat arriving approx. 15 minutes prior to the 10.30 show. The main entertainment team, led by Neil Oliver, worked very hard proving entertainment by the main pool during the day and in the various venues in the evening. The sail-away parties were fun, especially the Great British Sail-away in St Kitts, but perhaps could do with a bit of a refresh as they are a little bit samey. Itinerary We had specifically chosen this cruise for its itinerary and we enjoyed every single port. Our favourites were Barbados, Antigua, Grenada and Tortola, although there wasn’t really anything bad to say about any of the place we visited. We organised trips ourselves through the wonderful local taxi and bus companies, who greet you as you leave each cruise terminal, and we had enjoyable days sight-seeing or on beaches. The one surprise was Isla Margarita, which is part of Venezuela and extremely poor. This was the only port where we took a P&O organised tour having been recommended to do so by friends. The reason was the security situation, due to poverty, which meant our buses were escorted by armed police motorcycle outriders for the day. That said, we never felt threatened and enjoyed our visit the Retsinga National Park. Guests The vast majority of the guest were British and of a similar age to my wife and I (50+). Many had cruised previously and we had lots of enjoyable conversations about the ship, the cruise/ports and previous cruise experiences. Having cruised with Princess and RCI, we felt the Britishness of P&O gave a slight edge over the American style ships, as Britannia had a friendlier atmosphere. Most people observed the formal night dress code, which provided quite a spectacle on these evenings. On the first of the formal night thee captain held a welcome party, with free drinks, and gave an opportunity for a photo. Anyone who read other reviews will no doubt have seen comments regarding the professional moaners, of which there were a few. We heard one guest start every conversation he had by complaining about the design flaws and the lack of promenade deck (oh please!) I can’t finish this review without commenting on the much stated sunbed situation! Yes, the pools are very busy particularly on sea days. Yes, all the sunbeds do get taken by around 9.30 on sea days. The vast majority of people have come to the Caribbean for the sun! But, no, you don’t have to be up by 6am to get a sunbed. Most days we were up by the Serenity Pool by 7.45 (our choice, as we are early risers), after first getting a lovely Costa Coffee, and we always had plenty of choice of sunbeds. The beds are close together and there is a lack of shade but if you want shade and a quieter place, there are loads of other places to go on the ship other than the pool. Mostly we did not witness sunbed reserving, other than when people went into the pool, for a drink or a snack, which I think is acceptable. Only once did we witness one selfish couple who had reserved 4 sunbeds, 2 in the sun and 2 in the shade, but other guests put a stop to that by removing their towels from 2 of the beds! Finally… We enjoyed Britannia very much and will definitely cruise with P&O again and we are already looking for dates in 2017 for a Scandi/Baltic cruise on Britannia.

Brilliant Britannia

Britannia Cruise Review by SouthYorks

36 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2016
  • Destination: Caribbean
Summary

We cruised on Britannia in Feb 16, cruise B604, and had followed the negative reviews on Cruise Critic with some concern prior to travel. Given our very enjoyable cruise, I thought I would try to re-dress the balance by providing a full review of the many aspects of Britannia my wife and I experienced.

Overall we felt Britannia met our high expectations of a new large ship and we were very happy with virtually all aspects of the cruise.

Flight & Embarkation

We flew with Thomas Cook from Manchester on an Airbus A330 and enjoyed a smooth comfortable flight with good service from the cabin crew. There was plenty of leg room and the food was of a reasonable quality.

We arrived in Barbados ahead of scheduled and were transferred directly from the plane to the ship without having to pass through the airport, which was great. We arrived ahead of most flights, so our check-in was very quick with virtually no queuing. Having checked in our luggage at Manchester we next saw it in our cabin at around 6.30pm which was a few hours after embarkation and in time for us to unpack prior to our evening meal. Overall we thought the process was very efficient and a good start to the holiday.

Ship, Facilities and Cabin

As you would expect with any large ship, the facilities are varied and I personally feel there was something for everyone on-board Britannia.

Having cruised before on Ruby Princess and Independence of the Seas, both of a similar size and passenger numbers, we knew what to expect in terms of scale and organisation so were not surprised by Britannia’s size or the number of people on board.

The décor around the ship is muted brown, beige & blue tones which gives the ship a very modern and stylish feel which for us provided a nice point of difference to other ships.

The number of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues is excellent providing a good choice and different options each day.

Deck and pool areas were sizeable but as expected were very busy on sea days, although less so on port days. The main pool area (with 2 pools) is also an entertainment venue with music played most of the day and occasional quizzes and sail-away parties. The Serenity pool provided a quieter venue for sun-bathing although was equally busy as the main pool. There was a further smaller pool area which was quieter at the back of the ship, although in school holidays this area is reserved for teenagers. We enjoyed sitting around the various pools, using different locations as our mood took us.

Many have commented negatively about the lack of a Promenade deck, but to be honest I really don’t understand the issue! If you want to walk around the ship, a full circuit can be completed outside by walking on Deck 17 at the front of the ship and Deck 18 at the back of the ship.

Others have also commented negatively about the lack of stairs mid-ship. I agree to some extent that this is a slight inconvenience, but it really wasn’t a big issue. There are plenty of lifts and whilst at peaks times they were busy most people saw the funny side of trying to squeeze as many people into a lift as possible, rather than it being a point to complain, although we never managed the supposed 18 capacity.

We had a Balcony Cabin which was more than big enough for the 2 of us, was attractively decorated and with a large TV and the balcony was fine for sitting out or viewing the sail into port. The bed was extremely comfortable and we both slept much better than at home! There was more than enough hanging space and hangers provided.

Service

Service in virtually all aspects was excellent.

Our cabin steward, Oliver, was friendly and happy to chat when we saw him. He looked after us extremely well ensuring our cabin was always clean and tidy and all services provided promptly often tidying our room in the short time we were at breakfast.

Service was excellent in the Epicurean and Sindhu restaurants and The Limelight Club and generally very good in the Meridian Dining Room. One issue we encountered in the Meridian was that quite often the starter was served before the wine had been arrived, so we often had to chase down the wine waiter to get the wine delivered. I think the issue is caused by a lack of wine waiters, who take orders, collect bottles and bring them to the serving area as well as having to serve wine to a large number of tables. A few additional wine waiters would easily solve the issue.

Drinks service by the Serenity Pool was excellent, with waiters walking around the pool taking orders throughout the day and serving promptly (and somehow managing to get the right drinks to every person as if by some mystical power!)

Bars & Restaurants

There were a very good variety of bars from Brodies English bar to the Crows Nest Cocktail lounge. We often avoid the English bar, purely down to personal taste so only went towards the end of the cruise but wish we had gone earlier. The range of beers was fantastic, including a local beer from our home town! The Crows Nest serves excellent cocktails but if you enjoy Gin then this is the place for you as there is a whole menu dedicated to Gin! We also had pre-dinner drinks in the Sunset bar, the Glass House and Blue Bar all of which we enjoyed.

We tried all the eating venues as we like to vary where and what we eat.

Our favourite restaurant was Sindhu, which provided a stand-out meal. My wife & I love Indian food, but this meal was on a completely different scale!

The Epicurean restaurant was also excellent with very good food and service, with a very modern style.

We also ate in the Limelight Club and The Beach House, both which provided a different dining experience and we both enjoyed very much. The Beach House was great for a more casual meal, with sizzling plates, skewers and steaks on offer. One small niggle was that The Beach House did not accept bookings and as a consequence we were not able to get a table at a sensible time, twice being told there was a wait time of 1 hour 45 minutes!

The food in the Meridian Dining Room was very good, with the menu providing enough choice each evening and with sensible portion sizes. We were Freedom Dining but due to our preferred dining time, we often had to take pager as tables for 2 were not always available. Unfortunately that meant we had to have another pre-dinner drink (oh dear but never mind!)

The Glass House was a lovely place to have a pre-dinner drink watching the world go by, but is also excellent for food. One evening we each had a flight of wines and shared 6 Tapas dishes, which was excellent with very generous portions.

We only ate in the buffet for breakfast and for mid-afternoon snacks and found the choice of food good and well prepared. The buffet was always busy, and seating near to serveries was always occupied, but there were plenty of seating away from the main servery areas and we always managed to find a quiet corner. The waiting staff are constantly moving around the restaurant promptly clearing tables and resetting for the next guests.

Entertainment

Entertainment was generally of a high standard. We particularly enjoyed Pulse, the resident house band, who played most evening in the Live Lounge. This was a popular venue and became very busy as the evening progressed but if you were prepared to stand and wait for a few minutes then tables and chairs did become available as people moved on to other venues.

We went into the Theatre on 4 occasions and saw the cruise company shows plus an Annie Lennox tribute, who was superb. Again the Theatre was busy, but as there were generally 3 shows each evening we never had any trouble finding a good seat arriving approx. 15 minutes prior to the 10.30 show.

The main entertainment team, led by Neil Oliver, worked very hard proving entertainment by the main pool during the day and in the various venues in the evening. The sail-away parties were fun, especially the Great British Sail-away in St Kitts, but perhaps could do with a bit of a refresh as they are a little bit samey.

Itinerary

We had specifically chosen this cruise for its itinerary and we enjoyed every single port. Our favourites were Barbados, Antigua, Grenada and Tortola, although there wasn’t really anything bad to say about any of the place we visited. We organised trips ourselves through the wonderful local taxi and bus companies, who greet you as you leave each cruise terminal, and we had enjoyable days sight-seeing or on beaches.

The one surprise was Isla Margarita, which is part of Venezuela and extremely poor. This was the only port where we took a P&O organised tour having been recommended to do so by friends. The reason was the security situation, due to poverty, which meant our buses were escorted by armed police motorcycle outriders for the day. That said, we never felt threatened and enjoyed our visit the Retsinga National Park.

Guests

The vast majority of the guest were British and of a similar age to my wife and I (50+). Many had cruised previously and we had lots of enjoyable conversations about the ship, the cruise/ports and previous cruise experiences. Having cruised with Princess and RCI, we felt the Britishness of P&O gave a slight edge over the American style ships, as Britannia had a friendlier atmosphere.

Most people observed the formal night dress code, which provided quite a spectacle on these evenings. On the first of the formal night thee captain held a welcome party, with free drinks, and gave an opportunity for a photo.

Anyone who read other reviews will no doubt have seen comments regarding the professional moaners, of which there were a few. We heard one guest start every conversation he had by complaining about the design flaws and the lack of promenade deck (oh please!)

I can’t finish this review without commenting on the much stated sunbed situation! Yes, the pools are very busy particularly on sea days. Yes, all the sunbeds do get taken by around 9.30 on sea days. The vast majority of people have come to the Caribbean for the sun! But, no, you don’t have to be up by 6am to get a sunbed.

Most days we were up by the Serenity Pool by 7.45 (our choice, as we are early risers), after first getting a lovely Costa Coffee, and we always had plenty of choice of sunbeds. The beds are close together and there is a lack of shade but if you want shade and a quieter place, there are loads of other places to go on the ship other than the pool.

Mostly we did not witness sunbed reserving, other than when people went into the pool, for a drink or a snack, which I think is acceptable. Only once did we witness one selfish couple who had reserved 4 sunbeds, 2 in the sun and 2 in the shade, but other guests put a stop to that by removing their towels from 2 of the beds!

Finally…

We enjoyed Britannia very much and will definitely cruise with P&O again and we are already looking for dates in 2017 for a Scandi/Baltic cruise on Britannia.
SouthYorks’s Full Rating Summary
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