We are experienced cruisers in our 60's, first time on a P&O ship. Being able to choose a direct flight to the Caribbean avoiding the USA was very appealing with no worries about our luggage was heaven. We choose to book with a Cruise Specialist rather than direct with P&O gaining a significant discount also upgrading our flights to Premium Economy.
The Thomson flights to/fro Gatwick were perfect, better than Virgin or BA with excellent quality food, superb comfort for such a long haul, arriving in Barbados feeling fresh going direct from the plane to the ship within the hour. Our check-in was very quick and smooth spending little time in the processing shed - all in all a great start to the holiday.
Now for the cruise itself :-
* If you need to contact P&O use their FREE phone line - 0800-052-3840 it saves a fortune.
* Avoid 'A' Deck cabins like the plague as you will be subjected to constant noise from the Lido Deck above. We observed one couple complaining to Guest Relations and receiving £200 obc for their inconvenience.
* Check your flight seat release time via P&O Frequently Asked Questions and book your seats early to avoid any hassle - cost £20pp/each way for a standard seat.
* Disappointing that P&O fail to inform their passengers of the arrival / departure port times.
Check out www.cruisecal.com - they were identical to the onboard published times.
* The 4 Formal nights were the first 3 sea-days and the last was leaving St.Maarten. The Limelight Club, Beach House and Horizon Buffet Restaurants are casual on these formal nights - 4 formal nights on a 14 night cruise is OTT.
* Be ultra-cautious when using the self service buffet areas. Personal hygiene standards varies considerably - wash your hands frequently, cross your fingers and hope.
* The Horizon Buffet restaurant was always busy with the standard of the food generally good but with a very limited choice.
* Evening meals in the Main Dining rooms were very poor but for a modest extra charge both the Sindhu and Beach House restaurants were extremely good with excellent food quality and improved service. Whilst the Epicurean Restaurant offered fine service with a very limited choice, overall was disappointing - a definite minus rating for us!
* Our standard Balcony cabin was ideal for a 14 night stay. The bathroom although small had an excellent shower cubicle with a quality performance. The balcony itself is too small, a real minus in hot climes.
* The ship's layout can be confusing - ensure you carry your pocket map. The Lifts / Stairways are not a problem just a little patience needed at peak times.
* Drink prices were the best we have experienced aboard a cruise ship. Great choice of Wines and Beers without the normal gratuity surcharge of other cruises.
* If you are a sun-lover the outside decks on sea days is a good reason to avoid Britannia. The sun lounges are so close together it is claustrophobic with many people reserving sun loungers from the crack of dawn. Many of these Hoggers are so selfish they reserve a sun and shade bed. P&O needs to get a grip of the situation - it's a disgrace.
* The Pool side entertainment was Bultin's style, loud, overbearing and tasteless in the extreme whilst the evening entertainment was first class. The evening venues are extremely popular, shame about the lack of space as it downgrades the overall experience.
* We booked the Executive Lounge at Barbados airport before we left home. It was probably our best decision as the general lounge area was hot, crowded and manic.
Overall we had a great cruise, P&O is definitely good value for money especially when you consider the inclusive flight to Barbados.
Will we return to P&O ? - unsure but most definitely NOT Britannia since it is developing a 'Hi-Di-Hi' culture which is not to our taste, although this cruise was a valuable experience.
Very Good, ample size for 14 days. Bathroom small but has extremely good shower cubicle with a powerful water spray. Balcony really is too small and a reason too chose a different ship.