We are a family of 4 who sailed on the Britannia to the Norwegian Fjords on 29th June. It was our first cruise and I had actually stopped reading the reviews on this website leading up to the holiday as it was really starting to worry me we had made a mistake booking this holiday. As it turns out it surpassed our hopes and expectations. We had a brilliant week on board the ship and were impressed with every aspect. Taking into consideration what the price equivalent would buy you on land it seems fantastic value for money. I can only surmise that some of the cruising community are a pretty hard crowd to please. Which in a way is no bad thing as it helps to keep the standards high.
The ship is beautiful. I loved the decor in the public areas with high-quality fixtures and fittings. We had an internal room with pull-down beds which was cosy and compact but absolutely fine for our needs (basically a bed for the night).
The kids club – the facilities are great with friendly staff who take security seriously. My boys tend not to do things on their own but loved the kids club which meant their dad and I could have dinner ourselves and a cocktail in the Crows Nest a couple of nights without having to think about keeping the kids entertained.
The White Company products in the bathroom. I love a bit of luxury product and this was a lovely treat.
Customer Service – excellent. All staff were very helpful and polite.
Food – from the kids buffet to the afternoon tea to the restaurants, the food was excellent. I had a couple of dishes in the restaurant that were just ok but the majority were delicious (beer battered cod, sirloin steak and beef wellington being examples)
Cookery school with Marco Pierre White – great value for £100. A lovely man who spent time with each passenger along with other chefs who were there to offer advice and clean up after you. 2 dishes with no expense spared on the ingredients (risotto with saffron and a lobster pasta dish). A definite highlight.
Boarding and disembarkation – very smooth and well co-ordinated
I enjoyed the mix of passengers. It was the start of the Scottish school holidays but not the English which meant there were probably more pre-school kids. The kids tended to be very well behaved and my boys were often asked how they were enjoying their holiday by the older passengers in the lifts.
The shows – we thought the resident band in the live lounge were excellent. The dance floor was jumping on the first formal night. We also enjoyed the couple of shows we saw in the theatre. The productions are so polished and professional with fantastic scenery and costumes.
Drinks – reasonably priced, high quality and lots of choice.
We were late back to Southampton by a few hours due to two passengers having to be taken off the ship at Bergen due to illness and also a problem with the engine. As we had tickets booked for the Harry Potter Studios and as we were going to be back too late we were provided with free ship to shore phone calls and internet access to allow us to change our booking to the next morning. We were also kept well informed of what was happening by Captain Welsley (who sounded like a great character and we always enjoyed his cheery announcements). The ship also produced an adhoc newsletter informing passengers of the extra services being laid on due to our late arrival back into Southampton (including opening the kids club for a couple of hours in the morning, restaurants opening and the guy who normally sings in the Atrium putting on a one hour set at the poolside. The unplanned extended stay really was no hardship for us on a very warm, summers day.
People have mentioned about the lack of stairs in the middle of the ship. We had no problems. Fair enough, we might have to wait a couple of minutes occasionally but it really wasn’t a problem. We tended to use the stairs most of the time anyway as a there were only around 8 steps between floors. I can appreciate however if the stairs weren’t an option then this could be frustrating. People tended to be very accommodating in the lifts though and would make room to help people get from a to b. During his first address to the ship the Captain did ask able-bodied passengers to be considerate to those who weren’t able to use the stairs. Even after 7 days were still regularly losing our bearings and we made good use of the ship plans on the walls. It gave us a laugh though and our 5 year old had the best sense of direction out of all of us.
A beautiful country. Flaam being a particular highlight. Stunning scenery and our one organised trip to the Viking Village which was excellent. We were happy to wander ourselves at the other ports although after half an hour the boys were normally itching to get back to the ship and kids club. Bergen was another highlight. A lovely city and we enjoyed the Fenicular (due to poor weather in the morning we didn’t leave the ship until lunchtime but only had to queue around 30 minutes). The weather through the week was generally rainy and around 10/12 degrees. Not one for the sun worshipers. Saying that, it didn’t stop us doing anything we wanted to and the boys got to use the pool on the sea days.
To conclude, would I sail with P&O again? Absolutely! Thank you for a fantastic first cruise experience.
Just to add, I’m sorry to read all the negative press in the last week. It’s so far removed from our experience.