Reference to the cruise B634 I have just completed on the Britannia from and to Barbados.
I was staying in a balcony cabin on D deck with my wife and have quite a few concerns with the ship.
The shower in our cabin had extremely poor pressure, this was reported on day 1 in Barbados.
We were travelling with friends who also had cabins on D deck, both of their cabins had and acceptable pressure in the showers.
I reported this to reception and they told me that they would get someone to look at it, About 2 day passed and the shower was no better,
again I reported it to reception and again they said that they would get the plumber to look at it, later that day our cabin steward told us that the plumber had been to look at the shower and that he could not find a fault with it.
I went back to reception and then asked to speak to the hotel manager as I was not happy with the shower,
The receptionist told me that we had to go through the correct channels and would get someone to look at it.
Later that day I am presuming that the deck supervisor came to see me and explained that the plumber had checked the shower and it was acceptable pressure.
I was still not happy with this and decided to email the captain of the ship.
Following this email the next day I was contacted by I presume the hotel manager who came to our cabin and explained to me that he personally had been to our cabin and checked the shower himself and thought that the shower pressure was unacceptable and had instructed staff to “in his words” to equalise the pressures in the systems.
When I checked the shower I was surprised to see that we had a normal pressure which pleased me but more so my wife.
Unfortunately by this time we were on day 10 of our cruise, the hotel manager did apologise and asked what can be done to compensate us for the inconvenience
I did say that it should have been fixed on day 1 but agreed to accept a bottle of champagne.
Unfortunately this was not our only problem we experienced with this ship.
The lifts We did feel like 3 days of our cruise were spent waiting for lifts and we were not alone with this.
I find it incredible that a ship with a passenger capacity of over 4,000 only had 14 lifts to serve the entire ship.
When using the Midships lifts was more problematic because the stairs only went from deck 7 to deck 4, the lifts were also slow.
What we found ourselves doing was walking the entire length of the ship and using the Aft lifts just to save time or at least have the facility to use the stairs. Very poor
The restaurants We were anytime dining and started the cruise using the Meridian restaurant.
The service in the Meridian was very slow and twice we walked out before we had been offered the sweet course or coffees.
We then switched to the Peninsular restaurant which appeared to be slightly better, I do understand that on a cruise dining is not something that you want to rush and you should sit and relax and chat with your fellow passengers, but I don’t think that you should ever get the feeling that you are just being ignored.
I felt that the staff were not particularly friendly in either of the restaurants.
On the subject of staff what I did notice and have not seen on any other cruise ship that I have been on is the staff are Predominately one nationality and mostly men.
Not sure if this could be the problem as to why the crew on this ship are not so friendly, we may be wrong but that’s how we felt.
Sunbeds / Deck Areas Again this is probably due to the sheer size and passenger capacity of the ship.
Getting a sunbed in or around the pool areas is almost impossible, If you manage to get one they are so close together no room to get on the bed and certainly no room to place bags or drinks etc.
The Serenity pool area was even more crowded and to get a sunbed there it was up at crack of dawn unless you have £80 a day each to go into the Retreat.
We were told that there was another pool deck 17 AFT and went to investigate and only found a sheep dip about the size of a hot tub.
On the subject of hot tubs, only 2 on this size of ship? There should be 3 times that again very poor.
The food in the pool area was something else, not food something else.
I tried most of it and found the burgers were cold and dry having been cooked, wrapped and left there, the same for the chips and the sausage in rolls.
There was another section called grab and go again loads of semi cold food. Very difficult to get anything freshly cooked. But it seemed popular, just not what I would expect on a cruise ship.
The pool area was also extremely noisy especially when the entertainment team were around or a sail away party, in fact some time the noise was extremely deafening
in a work place environment you would be obliged to wear ear protection because you could not talk to your fellow passenger.
I do not class myself as one of the older members of the passengers but I thought the music was just too loud.
My wife and I also like to play table tennis but alas not on this cruise, the sun beds were nearly right up to the 2 table tennis table on deck 17 with people continuously walking right by looking for sun beds.
Surely a better place for these would be in the underutilised gym?
We did managed to find the other table tennis table on deck 17 Aft in the Reef area but alas is was reserved for teenagers and probably not used the entire cruise, more waste of space
Entertainment Although we found the quality of the entertainment once you managed to get a seat quite good we did feel (again because the size and passenger capacity of the ship) that the venues i.e the live lounge and the headliners theatre was a mad rush to try to get a seat and also found both these venues far too small for the size of ship. We have been on smaller ship with bigger entertainment facilities.
I am thinking that the space used for the cover charge restaurants, lounges and bars being the main reason to the crowds in the cattle class theatres, also between shows the walkway between both ends of the ship on deck 7 was extremely crowded with everyone try to get from one show to the next not all succeeding to get in.
Brodies and Casino Whilst we did like the range of reasonable priced drinks available in Brodies and some of the quizzes and music were enjoyable too. The area again could have been larger for the amount of passengers wanting to use it.
Disappointingly the size of the casino has got to be the smallest casino afloat, a very poor range of machines and very few gaming tables. As its predominately British passengers is there evidence that the British do not like to gamble? This may explain why this area is so small
Only one very poor condition pool table for such a large ship???
Coffee Bar area We enjoyed this are and used it quite a lot, the coffee is good also the service, it would have been nice to know earlier in the cruise that cakes were available with the drinks but I am not worried about that as this was the first cruise we have been on where we have not put on any weight, (probably all that walking between lifts and stairs)
Horizon Restaurant We affectionately named this the “free for all” because this is what it felt like when entering it.
The first time we used it half of it was closed off for teenagers only, what is all that about, don’t teenagers eat the same as the rest of us or is it all pop and crisps?
Some nights we did eat in here, the choice of food was OK but that’s it, just ok. The quality of food was defiantly lower than in the main restaurants. The choice of sweets was in our opinion very poor and not very often we felt the need to go back and try something else as well.
The layout was not partially well thought out with your tray you would go to the hot food area and then come across a pillar right in the middle section and have to manoeuvre around it whilst jostling with your fellow passenger.
What are you meant to do in these areas? Get your table first and hope that your stuff is still there when you return with you meal or get your meal first and hope for the best that you will find somewhere sit, I don’t know.
Anyway we only used this area a few times and preferred to eat in the main restaurants for both breakfast and dinner, even with the poor service
Destinations Very pleased with all the destination, we found we liked most of the islands and thought it was a good mix of different islands, different culture and different places to see and visit
Usually we do like the sea days as it gives you time to relax unlike and do a bit of sunbathing. When you have a shore visit it’s usually up early to see the islands. Unfortunately due to the overcrowding on the ship the port days appeared better.
Excursions We did not book any ship excursions, this is mainly due to the fact over the years we have found that you can do the same excursion with a little research, using the local people at the end of the pier at a third of the price, and this is what we done.
I think that there is a bit of a fear factor placed on all cruise passengers that the ship excursions are safer and if you don’t get back the ship will leave without you and I’m sure that is correct, it’s just a confidence thing you learn as you cruise more often. We had some great trips out
Overall We had a good holiday with great friends and visited some great places only let down by our accommodation i.e. the cruise ship itself.
Having been on 5 previous cruises with 5 different cruise company’s unfortunately P & O is in the bottom two.
The problems that we initially experienced with the shower did put a bit of a downer at the start of the cruise and could have been avoided.
I have since written to P&O regarding my concerns regarding the ship and have just received a reply.
In the reply none of the points that I had mentioned have been answered but I have received an offer of a discount on a future cruise with P&O,
However I did receive some advice as follows:- "We do feel that each of our ships are marketed in such a way that our customers are able to choose the ship which most suitably meets with their requirements and I feel that Britannia was not the ship for you"
We spoke to a lot of fellow guests whilst aboard the Britannia, mostly those that had cruised before with other cruise lines were quite critical of the Britannia and those who have not cruised before were quite satisfied, this tells me that things are not Okay aboard Britannia.
I hope this review helps some people to make up their mind when choosing their cruise holiday.