Flight / arrival at the island / check in
We'd booked what turned out to be the first trip where Britannia home ported at St Lucia. I say home ported; obviously, Britannia still made the two day stop in Barbados a week later but ours was the first P&O charter flight out to the island to start a 2-week cruise. Thomas Cook was the carrier and it was just fine. We splashed out on Premium (which was very good but not quite as enjoyable as Thomson’s premium on the 787) which also helped when it came to disembarking at the airport through the one and only exit, namely the front stairs. It was a bit chaotic to be honest, it being left to the aircraft captain to apologise on P&O’s behalf for the fact that our early arrival meant there were no buses to collect us. After about 45 mins we all traipsed past the solitary immigration officer (at the top of the aircraft steps bizarrely) and got on what can be best described as a glorified minibus for the 1 hour trip on St Lucia’s steep and windy roads over to Castries. It was a bit hairy, to be honest and there were moments that I thought we’d have to get out and push, but eventually we got to the city and soon Britannia came in to view in her berth and what a welcome sight it was.. can never get over how massive the ship is up close.
We parked up right next to the ship at Pointe Seraphine and the check in process was as smooth as you like; partly on the quayside but most of the processing was done on board, in the Atrium. After a bit of comedy “back a bit”, “forward a bit” with the security photo we were on the way to our cabin! This being our first cruise there was a genuine sense of excitement as we headed up the stairs and into F112.
We had expressed a preference at the time of booking for Freedom Dining on the Saver and were pleased to get it. Over the 9 or so occasions that we ate in the MDR we only once had to take a pager and wait in a bar, and that was on the Captains' Gala Evening; otherwise, given that we were happy to share a table, we got to sit down straight away. Despite some of the complaints I’ve read elsewhere about the MDR menu, we can safely say we didn’t have a bad experience at all. Whilst there are numerous courses, the portion sizes were reasonable, so you didn’t feel that you were gorging yourself just to get through the dinner… We enjoyed the menu variety and thought the quality was just fine.
Service was unobtrusive and efficient, just how you want it really.
On a couple of occasions when we had shore excursions leaving early-ish in the morning, we decided to have breakfast in the Buffet, which was a bit manic for us, so subsequently we just got up a bit earlier and headed down to the Peninsular Restaurant allowing a bit more time for a full-service meal.
BTW I would say that overall the formal nights were pretty well observed as far as dressing up was concerned, 80+ percent of the gents were in black tie / DJ’s. It made for a pretty special feel although towards the end, the fourth formal night I couldn’t wait to get out of the trousers given that I had, er, filled out a bit.
This is where Britannia’s food and drink really comes into its own; we tried pretty much all the Select restaurants: Epicurean, Glass House (tapas), Sindhu, the Beach House (very popular with the crew, which is always a good sign) and the Limelight (see Entertainment below). Our favourite was the Beach House, a chilled feel and the food was awesome. Second favourite was the tapas – type meal we had at the Glass House (which you don’t have to book for). Overall, we thought the select dining was good value for money (assuming that you can get over the fact that you’re paying on top for the privilege, but we were happy with that).
Bars and Entertainment
Our favourite bar was the Crow’s Nest; as a fan of gin I tried my best to get through the selection
We booked a Saver fare and were delighted with the cabin we were allocated. Overall after the 2 weeks we thought the cabin levels of comfort and facilities were great with no complaints at all. LOADS of wardrobe space and hangers, and plenty of room on the shelving too. The cabin safe was easy to use with a one-time code entered each occasion you close it. Bathroom /shower were plenty big enough and I second the comments others have made about the shower door being a nice touch versus a clingy curtain. Especially handy in our device-heavy lives was the extra socket under the TV, with a little shelf to put your phone / iPad / camera whilst they were charging. Loved the kettle and tea / coffee facilities, it’s just great to be able to make a cuppa and sit outside as we berthed at each island. The fact that P&O are more relaxed about you bringing booze on board is a bonus too, we bought some beers in the duty-free shop at Barbados and weren’t questioned when we brought them on board, and the fridge was plenty big enough to store 6 – 8 bottles plus a bottle of wine. We watched a bit of telly but there seemed to be loads of choices if you wanted to watch more. The real-time map was handy for those like me that wanted to know exactly where you are at any point.
I’d read lots of comments about how narrow the balconies are on Britannia, and it’s true you need have the chair at an angle but was it such a big issue? No, not at all. We happily spent time out there.
Our Cabin Steward, Mahendra really looked after us, always had smile in the morning and can’t fault the cleanliness of the cabin.
This being a cruise to celebrate my wife’s 50th, we booked the champagne continental breakfast in our cabin on her actual birthday which was lovely although there was loads of food to eat (probably too much, for two people if I’m honest).