Saturday 14th March 2015 – Southampton
Wow, what a week that was!!! I need a holiday, and just so happens I am booked to be on the Maiden Cruise of P&O’s newest and biggest ship, P&O Britannia.
So just recap…… On Monday myself and Lizy set off for Southampton because we were privileged to be invited to a Gala evening on board this stunning new ship and attend the Naming ceremony the following day when the ship was named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. We arrived at Ocean Terminal and were greeted by a line of immaculate cadets at the door. Sadly they were only there to greet the celebs who were due to arrive in Limos, but even so, it looked impressive. Inside and out the entrance to Ocean Terminal was adorned with stunning red white and blue flower displays and upstairs in the embarkation lounge we were treated to street artist style entertainment in the form of a busker, two amazing dancers and later a violinist. We embarked into the lower Atrium and the stunning understated luxurious ambience of the much talked about Starburst just wraps you up and welcomes you in. Oh yes, I’m impressed already. We went straight you our cabin, which for us on this occasion was a G grade balcony, B105. G grade means that it’s a smidgen larger than the H grade balcony and has a small two seater sofa, as opposed to the H grade which only has a chair. Its compact, and for me personally it’s too small, but then I am in favour of a suite – yes I have been spoilt in the past. The shower now has a glass door rather than a shower curtain, but other than that they are pretty much the same as a standard balcony cabin on Azura and Ventura.
But we were on board for work as well as pleasure so we did a full tour of the many different cabin types that we could find. I noted that the H grade has less storage space than the G grade, one less bedside table, less shelving in the wardrobe area. Basically the dressing table, one bedside table and the wardrobe are with single cupboard is all you have. I don’t travel light so it wouldn’t be enough space for me. After a very light lunch we retreated to Glass House bar and sat and enjoyed a glass of Ice fizz or two while the world and his wife strolled past to say hello.
Captain’s Gala reception was held in the Atrium and it soon filled up. In fact it got too full by the bar. At one point I was literally a sandwich between Judith Charmers and Micky Arison. David Dingle and Captain Paul Brown were introduced by Rob Brydon and celebs were spread all around. Gala dinner can only be described as absolutely divine. The presentation and flavours far exceeded anything else I had experienced before on a P&O ship. Very impressive dining experience. After dinner there was more than enough going on around the ship but we chose to just chill out at Glass House and Crows Nest, Early night tonight because it’s a big day tomorrow.
I didn’t have the best of sleeps, the cabin seemed very airless so maybe the air conditioning wasn’t fully operational. This resulted I me getting up and opening the balcony doors, which was great because it allowed a flow of fresh air in but it also let in the noise and music of the all night workers preparing the grand stand for the naming ceremony. There was a stunning sunrise over Southampton water and I was sure we were in for a good day. I wasn’t wrong!
We were asked to assemble in the Atrium before taking our seats outside in the Naming arena. The buzz in the Atrium was one of excitement and anticipation. I was doing what I’m sure most ladies were doing – checking to see who was wearing what. What colour and who was wearing a hat! I had earmarked my seat in the grandstand from the comfort of my balcony, so once we were allowed to disembark I was like a rabbit out of a trap. My mission was successful and we had very good seats with a superb view of the main event ad directly opposite the Queen and Captain Paul Brown. I’m sure most of you have seen coverage and photographs of the Naming Ceremony, but I will sum it up by saying what an amazing event. The sun shone, and we basked from our seats in glorious sunshine. Rob Brydon was hilarious. The bands of the Royal Marines added to the pomp and ceremony and the Queen looked stunning. The bottle broke, the ships horn blasted and the flurry of confetti canons showered each and every one of us in red white and blue confetti. Perfect, just absolutely perfect and so fortunate to be a part of it. We were invited to go back on board for a lovely 3 course lunch and flowing wine. After lunch we were also lucky enough to be present when 3rd Officer Lizzie Phillips presented the Queen with flowers as she disembarked. What a proud moment for Lizzie to have been chosen. As we disembarked we were presented with a beautiful set of Waterford crystal champagne flutes that depict the Starburst light feature plus a bottle of Wiston fizz
So, after a brief encounter with Holiday Inn Southampton, and a rendevouz with Mr C, after disembarking yesterday afternoon it was time to do it all over again for a couple of nights. Ocean Terminal was again busy. The ‘street Entertainer’ acts were on full form again doing their thing for the entertainment of those waiting to embark. We only had a short wait and we were invited to embark once again. It would have been much easier if they had invited us to stay on board last night as well, but they didn’t lol. Today we had been allocated a H grade cabin. very similar to yesterdays G grade apart from we only had a chair instead of the small sofa. Cabin is slightly smaller and from what I experienced has less storage. Certainly has one less bedside table and hasn’t got the second shelving area in the wardrobe space. Bathroom and balcony are the same. Dressing table is next to the bed instead of the bedside table and sofa. I guess that means that the cabin is approximately a bedside table shorter in length than the G grade? Time to show Mr C the Glass House. Absolutely no need to go exploring because he has 14 days to do that from Saturday onwards. That puzzled look is starting to come over many of the bar staff faces. Wasn’t she here the other night on that very barstool. Better get used to it because I will be here again soon for a bit longer. We were later joined by Lizy and Rach. Ooh it was nice being able to relax while others tried to rush around to see cabins, bars, outside decks etc.
This evening was smart casual and we started our evening in Crows Nest. Ooh check out the G&T menu! I don’t mind if I do!! I like it in here at the bar, and this evening is relatively quiet, but fill it with regular P&O passengers and I dare say it will be a popular bar on the ship. We were Freedom dining and in hinsdsight we probably went down to eat a lot later than we intended. We got there for 8.30 which of course was a peak time, so were given a pager to return later. It turned out to be much later when the restaurant should have officially closed its doors. The waiter seemed more interested in polishing his spoons than serving us, and it was 10 to 10 before we saw any food. But hy, this is the shakedown cruise. This is exactly what its all about. We are the test pilots of this mighty fine ship. We were fed and we were out of there and heading to see the show in Headliner Theatre. Their name escapes me, but the singing group of lads was very good, so good we sat on the floor at the back of the theatre to watch them. And then to Brodies. Yes, Brodies. I spent the night in Brodies, lol, not my first choice of venue, but it was the girls choice and the duo were good so what’s not to like. From there it was down to Live Lounge. Hey, there is a whole new world beyond Glass House on deck 7. Who knew? I didn’t venture this far when we were on for the Gala night. This ship is full of surprises. Sindhu looks fab, nice bar. Note to self to try it out. Live Lounge was packed to the rafters. I have spotted Brian behind the bar. My favourite bar man is here. He is as pleased to see us as we are to see him. We decided to leave the girls to it after only one drink. I could tell they were going to party hard, and Im not as young as I was. I need my bed.
The next day was spent pottering and mooching. It was a glorious, fresh sunny day outside and we went right up the top to get some photos of the deck below. The girls were suffering, suffering big time. They got in at what time last night? There were a few that looked to be suffering big time with hangovers.
After meeting the girls for pre dinner drinks this evening in Crows we knew we had to make an effort to get to dinner earlier and we managed it effortlessly. No waiting for a table, no pager, just straight in to a table for 4. So far, my experience of the two midship freedom dining restaurants is that they lack ambience. Is this due to the fact that the lights are always on full and the restaurants are just way to bright and stark? In many ways they look unfinished to the point that they knew they had to put two restaurants in midship, as per the plans, but they ran out of time, so threw the tables and chairs in, turned the lights on and left. I just think they need softening in a few ways with décor and lightning. After dinner we checked out the show, checked out Brodies and that is in fact where I left the girls. They were convincing themselves that they weren’t having a late one. Not drinking as much as they did last night and were steering clear of the Live Lounge. As I discovered the next morning, they could not have been in the cabin long when I went in to pack up their stuff and drag them out to the gangway.
So once more I disembark Britannia, but I will be back!!
So back the Maiden Cruise. We had been advised that there would be no top tier embarkation lounge for us on board due to ‘unprecedented number of passengers in the two tiers’ Mmmm, did they not expect their most loyal passengers to be on the Maiden cruise. We were also given a boarding time of 2.00pm which we along with most of the other passengers seemed to ignore, because when we arrived at 10.30am Ocean Terminal was very full, so full that we struggled to find a seat. No priority seating area for us today, but when I advised clipboard woman we were top tier she did give us a different colour embarkation card, not that she asked so I dare say I could have easily been at the back of the queue. No in terminal entertainment today either, all the budget must have been used up during the week, plenty of people watching to be done anyway. Lots of people in red white and blue, even full on union jack suits etc. The bloke next to Mr C was going mental. He was not a happy chappy. It had only just gone 11.00am and he was already creating a scene about the amount of time he has been waiting to check in. He was going on, and on. Eventually he caught the attention of one of the check in staff and had a rant at her. I had to butt in, I just had to. I asked him what time his ticket advised him to check in? 2.00pm!!! I rest my case, sit down and chill out!! Oh, but he always arrives early and always checks in, and is always on before lunch. He just couldn’t see it that its people like him (and I include myself in that) that generate mass confusion at the terminal by turning up what in effect was four hours early. He needed to just take a chill pill and enjoy the moment. He was like a rabbit out of a trap when his Green letter A was called. I had to smirk when his check in took forever and he was still at the check in desk when we checked in with embarkation card C. Oh the irony!
Captain Paul was half way along the airbridge as we embarked. Welcome on board, “Welcome on board” he chanted, until he got to me and I got kisses. Got to love Captain Paul’s kisses. Once onboard our cruise cards were checked and we were directed to the forward lifts and advised our cabin was ready. We had no reason to expect top tier embarkation lounge and drinks etc because Christopher Edgington had advised in his Q&A session a week or two ago that ‘due to unprecedented high level of top tier members on the Maiden voyage’ there would be a special gift for us instead. No gift for me on my bed, maybe it will follow later. After dropping off our bags at the cabin we headed to Glass House for our own private Welcome on board drinks. It was very quiet, where was everyone? We were to discover where exactly later in the day!!! After a while we ventured up to the Pizzeria for a couple of slices of pizza which we ate shivering on the open deck before going back to the cabin to unpack. Four of the five cases have arrived. We did get the fifth one out of the car didn’t we? There have been so many re shuffles of cases and luggage this week that I’m not sure what we should and shouldn’t have with us anymore. After unpacking four cases I needed another drink so it was a quick retreat to Crows Nest before muster. This bar is going to be popular! That last case is still on my mind though, it’s getting pretty close to departure time and I need to see that case. Yay, back at the cabin it has turned up. Clearly it’s not still in the car or fell into the sea. Storage in the Superior deluxe is not an issue. I have not travelled light this time, but we have more than enough storage space and none of the drawers etc are crammed with stuff, in fact I think we still have a cabinet next to the sofa that is empty. I’m sure I can rectify that!
Once muster drill was over we needed to secure a spot on the port side of the ship to see the band and watch the fireworks. I was not impressed that Captain Paul had bought the ship in bow first following the two night shakedown cruise. We were on starboard so our balcony was no use to us on this occasion. We tried to get on deck 7 for the ideal viewing spot but it was already rammed. I caught a glimpse of the Royal Marines band before deciding we needed to be up top. No chance of a lift, so I had to take the stairs. Deck 7 to 18 on foot was not the wisest of plans after a few sherries. Oh my poor heart got a bit of a work out. I’m sure it was good for me in a warped sort of a way. It’s just as well there was a waitress handing out complimentary fizz when I reached the top. I had lost Mr C in the chaos, but thanks to the technology of mobile phones he was located right up the very top by the mast. Oh what joy, more stairs! Oh boy it was freezing up there. There was no way I could go back for gloves and scarf. I just had to suffer. Even my fizz was too chilled to drink, but I managed. It wouldn’t have been such a long wait if it wasn’t for the stupid French container ship that was coming into dock and we had to wait for him to pass. Oh Captain Paul was not a happy chap! Eventually we let go our lines, not that I could see that from what seemed like 30 decks above sea level, but the ships whistle gave out an almighty blast and we heard the bangs of the confetti cannons, although never witnessed it and then we could see Ocean Terminal roof slowly moving away. Neil and his team had got the deck party going, we reversed out. Turned slowly, and just past QE2 terminal we were treated to an amazing firework display. Bon Voyage! The Maiden Cruise of P&O Britannia has officially began. It was pretty spectacular and worth the wait in the freezing cold.
We only had time for a quick wash and brush up, and change of clothes before heading for a quick pre dinner drink in Glass House. Oh my bar is busy, and full of familiar faces. I asked around to see if anyone had received this special top tier welcome on board gift that was due to replace the embarkation drinks and nibbles. What? It turns out there was a special embarkation lunch and drinks after all. How did I miss that? Apparently we should have been directed there as soon as we embarked but we were directed to our stateroom instead without any mention of heading to the dining room for our special treats of lunch and drinks etc. Our cruise cards clearly indicate our Peninsular level so someone clearly messed up.
We had been allocated our chosen late meal sitting table for two in Oriental Restaurant, on table 132. I like the Oriental the best out of all three restaurants but just personal choice. I was a little surprised to be guided to a bit of a secret annex of the restaurant, to the right, and then to the right again as you enter through the main doors. The annexe is made up mainly of tables for two, with just a couple of fours and a table for six. We have two lovely waiters, Brian and Santa! I kid you not, Santa works at sea and serves me my dinner lol. Our table for two is in the window and is one of a run of three tables for two. So what is the etiquette of a table for two in such a location? To speak to the next table or not? Did they chose a table for two because they want to be completely on their own? Well, it takes me to break the silence. What’s the worst that could happen, they don’t speak back? We had a nice little chat but respect that they also want their own conversation. I felt a bit sorry for the couple of the furthest away table for two, who looked a bit out on a limb. Maybe they want to be alone who knows?! The meal was lovely, the service could not have been better. We did have a moment when I left my sticky toffee pudding because it was cold and therefore not worth the calories. I told Brian it wasn’t an issue, but next thing I now is that I have the section waiter standing over me having a mini inquest.
So dinner was over. We have a cruise ahead of us. A brand new shiny ship at our disposal and what do we do with our evening that lays before us? We head back to the cabin. I ran a big bubbly bath, had a soak, donned my pj’s and climbed under the duvet! Bliss, sheer bliss. Oh yes, P&O Cruises This is the Life!!
Sunday 15th March 2015 – at Sea
I woke up to Mothers Day gifts and cards, which was a nice way to wake up on this first day of Britannia’s Maiden voyage. I have Pandora charms, for my recently acquired bracelet.
Breakfast this morning consisted of a blueberry muffin and vanilla latte in Costa. Everywhere was extremely busy as people wandered around discovering this amazing new ship, but we got a couple of high stools at the counter looking out towards the Starburst and it was a great people watching spot as everyone strolled past. We spent a very enjoyable hour there chatting to the couple next to us.
The confusion about not being aware of yesterdays top tier special lunch and drinks was still niggling me, so I decided to go see the Loyalty Manager to ask why I wasn’t made aware? He explained that after Christopher Edgingtons Q&A session they received so much feedback that they realised they needed to uphold this particular perk of top tier passenger status. How did they choose to inform us of this change? They chose to write to us, via good old snail mail in the form of personalised letters. Everything else they choose to email or text us, especially if it’s a late change. But no this time they decided to post a good old fashioned letter on Monday of this week. If you weren’t at home to pick up the letter from your door mat well tough. I explained I hadn’t been at home, as I’m sure many passengers weren’t later in the week. I also explained that we weren’t directed to lunch when we embarked either and he couldn’t explain that one. Here’s a good idea – when we were checked in and recognised as top tier passengers why not give us a note explaining then? Or when we arrived at or cabins why was there not a note advising us of the arrangement with our Peninsular packs. That has to be far more fail safe? All that Mr Peninsular could do was offer to ‘feed it back’ and include in his end of cruise report. No offer to take my name or cabin number, but I made sure he wrote it down. Even if that was just a bit of red scribble n the corner of his jotter. Hey at least it was red pen! Shudder that he should even attempt to resolve with an alternative gesture. Loyalty Managers are not what they used to be!!!
We were undecided about where to have lunch and we eventually decided to try Glass House, we even secured a seat and table in the window, but it was so busy that I realised service could take a while, so we redirected ourselves down to Sindhu which was a much better option. Fellow passengers hadn’t discovered this place yet, and it was lovely and tranquil. First on my to do list was sample the new version of Benares cocktail, and oh my days I was better than ever. So good in fact I had two! We opted for the three taster dishes for a light lunch and that was more than enough for us.
Boring as it may be I had washing to do. Being in Southampton all week and off and on Britannia for various events had generated washing and I couldn’t bear the thought of it festering in a case under the bed so I decided to go and do the laundry whilst it was quiet. There is a laundry on every deck, but they are very far aft, so it was quite a trek back and forth a few times to check on everything. After that I had earnt myself a long lazy rest in my big comfy bed whilst Mr C went to film and TV heaven with his new love of the interactive TV.
Oh how I struggled to wake up in time to get ready for Captains Gala evening. P&O claim “This is the life” but it’s a struggle at times to keep up! I really had to rush to get ready in time for the party, well I was actually ready at 7.45pm thinking that was the time of the party, but it turns out it was actually 8.15pm. Oh well, at least it meant we could secure a place at the rails to ensure we could see the proceedings of the event. Despite being on the deck where the shops were the waiter service was very attentive and we were not short on refreshments. Captain Paul proudly presented all his officers, I prefer to see them in their whites, but they looked very smart in their blues. We were a little late going down to dinner, but hey, we have a table for two. I know I shouldn’t moan but it was the same Gala dinner that we had a couple of nights ago. I know, I know, ‘Don’t moan Jane’. I was indeed very lucky to be on board the other night too!
After dinner we strolled through to the Glass House and got a nice comfy seat overlooking the atrium. I had a nice glass of chilled red fizz and became mesmerised watching the Star Burst change colour.
Time to liven things up and so it was time for the Live Lounge with my favourite bar man Brain. Oh bless him he is so lovely. We sat at the bar and watched the people, with more energy than us, boogie away and it wasn’t long before some bar regulars turned up. First was in the form of Mark, who used to work at sea for many years, and later we were joined by the legendary Mr Holden and Michelle, and eventually Steve. Oh the bar party has started! I freaked poor Steve out with my knowledge of cabin numbers, locations grades etc. Hey, I cant help it, its just the way I am. I do what I say all the time – I specialise in cruise and I know my stuff. The amount of passengers was dwindling from around us, the dance floor was getting less and less busy. I do recall last orders being called, and you know you really should think about leaving when the lights go on and the cleaners move in.
Mr C could only think about food so we ended up in Horizon in search of scoobie snacks but non were to be found at such an hour. So what was the first thing he did when he got back to the cabin? He ordered room service. Bruschetta, plus ham tomato and lettuce baguette and two hot chocolates. I did wake up for mine before hitting my feather pillow for the second time this evening. Mr C caught up with his film!
Monday 16th March 2015 – at sea
What day is it? Good question! Clocks went forward one hour which was not ideal considering we got in at something like 3.15/4.15 this morning! It didn’t help that Mr C had his alarm on his phone set to 6.45am alarm with it being Monday and all that. Clearly he didn’t inform his phone he was on holiday!! And hour or so later he decided it was time to ‘Grab n Go’ so he donned some clothes and did just that, swinging by Costa coffee at the same time. I laid in bed and had the luxury of a sausage and egg muffin and vanilla latte were delivered to my bedside. I then snoozed all the way through to the noon announcement whilst he caught up with his film on the TV in the sofa part of the cabin. He likes the fact that you can pause a film, so don’t miss any bits when stuff like Captains cocktail party etc get in the way.
We are currently just off the coast of Portugal and you can feel the change in temperature out on the balcony. That chill has gone, so we ventured up to the open deck. Sadly the warmer climes hadn’t reached up there, there was a very brisk sharp wind whistling around the open decks. We decided to go and chill out I Crows Nest but that seems to be what half the ship had decided to do. It was rammed! We went and sat in the Atrium for a short while before I retreated back to my Superior Deluxe cabin and Mr C went to the casino to try his luck on the roulette tables – its free for an hour I think. Something like that, I should pay more attention I guess.
I’ve just looked up and spotted the phone is flashing with a message. Who could it be? I picked up the handset and listened to ‘Bring me sunshine’ for a while which confused hell out of me. Then Chris Edgington spoke and wished me a Happy Holiday (does he know this is a cruise?) he then proceeded to tell me about all the various outlets I should try, before wishing me many ‘This is the life’ moments’ Well yes, this is the life, the new P&O life and I hope all the changes are good.
Compulsory and much needed nap was on the cards this afternoon, followed by a nice soak in a big bubbly bath. The sunbeam were creeping out from behind the cloudy sky and bouncing off the sea whist I sat at the dressing table getting ready and for the first time I felt as if I was on a real cruise and not just tootling around the sea somewhere.
We were out and about at around 7.20pm and it was nice to find the Glass House nice and quiet for once and my bar stool vacant. We soon worked out why. The show in the theatre kicks out at 7.30 so shortly after that you have no chance at all as literally hundreds of people descend on the main areas of the ship. Ah well, fun times were had at the bar.
We had decided to dine in the Beach House but didn’t know if we would get in or not especially as we were now later than intended and it was 8.30pm which could be a peak time. No worries, we arrived and were advised that they were just wiping down a table and would be ten minutes at the most. As it turned out it was more like five minutes. We were lead past many laid up but vacant tables and taken to the far end and allocated a table for two in the window, which could only have been bettered if it was light enough to see out of it. It took a while to get a menu, took even longer to order but then the 45 minute wait for starter to arrive was beyond a joke. We are talking potato skins and buffalo chicken wings here so not really any great cookery skills and concentration required by chef. I had a discreet word with our lovey waiter and he advised that he would ensure the main course was a little faster, and it was a more acceptable time to be served within, just about! We were both underwhelmed by Mr Cs speciality hanging kebab. It needed to be bigger and chunkier to be impressive. Thankfully he had ordered a side of chicken to go with it or it would not have been enough for him I had the beef chilli taco which was very nice, but not a very substantial portion size for those with a bigger appetite. We ordered desert in what was now an empty restaurant. All that remained was a table for four in the far distant corner and a table with the fleet chef and some other high bod on the table directly behind us. I explained to the waiter that we were keen to get to see the Queen Tribute band that started in 35 minutes time so could I have the coffee and desert at the same time. No problem madam. Well, I watched the reflection in the window of the coffee come and go, not once, but twice over the next 30 minutes. Some coffee might of calmed me down. The waiter got my best Padington Bear glare a few times but till nothing. Some 30 mins later my ‘sizzling’ strawberries arrived. I could not have been more disappointed, they were dead, not even the slightest hint of a sizzle, to which I of course commented. When the waiter informed me that the chef was very busy I more or less flipped, at which point the fleet chef and his table companion got up and moved. I guess he thought I would turn on him as he was wearing his whites. Mr Cs banana bread and butter pudding was nothing short of disgusting tastless, defrosted nothingness. For the first time ever we got up and left and refused to sign the bill. The poor waiter was chasing us and I tried as calmly as I could that he had done nothing wrong but I wouldn’t be signing anything and the Food & Beverage Manager was more than welcome to chase me and I would give him my feedback. The Restaurant Manager stopped us at the door, and once again I gave my reasons before we left. I fully appreciate that this is a new ship, but Azura and Ventura have run a similar outlet more than successfully and I was wondering what was so different on here, given that there is no way the galley could have been busy because we were almost certainly the last diners to arrive. I just need to say at this point that this was a one off. If you read to the end, you will see that we did return to the Beach House, and had a fabulous meal, so lets just put this one down to ‘teething issues’
We arrived at Live Lounge shortly after the Queen band had started and we had not a hope in hell of getting in the room, let alone seeing the band. It was rammed to the rafters. Outside we bumped into Mr H and Michelle who were confused to find the show still on and the live lounge so full. They then had a moan that the buffet had closed very early for evening service, and yes, then the massive penny has dropped. They didn’t put their clocks forward last night and have spent the entire day on a different time zone!!! That also explains why they turned up at someone cabin for drinks to be greeted with an astonished look. They were an hour late! It all got too much for them and they had to retire for the evening and off they trotted chuckling away to themselves.
We retreated to Sindhu bar and hoped that a Benares would save the day. Oh disaster, what the heck was this I was being served. It was like a glass of the sweetest white Pina colada with a swirl of red on the top. I wasn’t happy, given the earlier events of Beach House. The bar tender insisted it was correct. I had my camera with me so I showed him exactly what it looked like yesterday. ‘yes Madam, its changed’ Why? I spoke to Obi yesterday and told him how delicious it was, I wasn’t believing any of this. Eventually the bar tender removed my Benares and mixed a second one, but I was more than aware that it was the same pina colada mix from the blender with red syrup in the bottom of the glass. The new excuse is that the Bar Manager has changed it today. I’m not convinced and I can’t believe that it would have been Obi that gave the order because I stopped him and complimented him on the perfect Benares earlier today.
To add insult to injury everyone that came out of the show in live lounge was commenting what a brilliant Queen show it had been, Grrrr… After a very pleasant chat and catch up with some fellow passengers we decided to call it a night. It’s been a very discombobulated evening one way or another!
Tuesday 17th March 2015 – Gibraltar
We awoke to sunshine! It wasn’t to last though. The promised rain was threatening.
I had a 9.15m telephone call, and there was no prizes for guessing it was the Horizon Beach House Restaurant Manager, Kevin requesting a meeting to discuss last nights meal. Oh bless him, I must be a scary thought to be presented with as soon as he came on shift at 6.30 this morning. We arranged to meet at 10.15am and I think he understood and appreciated what our issues with the meal were. I did feel guilty that the fleet chef chose to remove himself from his table, but he obviously thought I was about to cause a massive scene, which hopefully I didn’t. Maybe he retreated to a safe distance to see how staff handled it.
All areas of the ship are very busy as everyone is awaiting our lunch time arrival into Gibraltar. It wasn’t the most spectacular or exciting of arrivals for this first call on Britannia’s Maiden cruise, but it was almost expected. I have visions of it being nothing short of utter total chaos as passengers will surge to be the first to disembark. I have retreated to the comfort and safety of my cabin until the rush is over.
We pottered around for a while trying to decided shall we shall we not go into Gibraltar. In the end we decided it was something we needed to do. We had a big P&O brollie in the cabin, and I had my own with me, so we should be pretty waterproof. Clearly Gibraltar was not the ideal first port of a Maiden cruise. Now, let me just take this opportunity to clear something up. Initially there were horrendous queues to disembark? Why? Because the passengers generated those queues, and for no other reason. Hang back a bit and you can walk straight off just as we did. The terminal building was being demolished at one end and it wasn’t exactly an amazing welcome. We walked as far as the Admiral Nelson pub in the rain, where I enjoyed a nice tuna mayo jacket spud (well why not) before heading back to the ship. For the first time in as long as I can recall we jumped in a shuttle taxi for 2 euro each, but it was raining sideways, so well worth it. And now the fun part. Gibraltar authorities were insisting on scanning random sets of returning passengers, that generated yet another queue, and those queues snaked along the dockside in the rain. But lets be fair, I have never known it any different in Gibraltar so not a fault of P&O or the ships size.
I had broken a nail in Gibraltar, oh disaster, but a quick flyby of the Spa desk and I was slotted in immediately for a £5 repair to my gel nail. No nap time for me today, I was in the shower, make up applied and in Glass house with my Pellar just before 7.30pm
We enjoyed a very nice dinner back in the Oriental Restaurant and discussed our wine choice with the wine waiter for tomorrow evening.
Opera Buys were o in the theatre so we stopped by to see a bit of their act, very good! Next we had a bit of a flyby of the Crystal Lounge and the ballroom dancers and later sequence dancers were out in force. Next we had a late night appointment with the Comedian in Live Lounge (absolutely no rest for me as I trek from one end of the ship to the other!) Mark Walker was very, very funny, and that’s praise indeed from me because I rarely laugh at comedians. What a shame two women had to spoil things with a full on hair pulling cat fight at the end of his act. Total idiots, as were the people around that cheered when security arrived, talk about add fuel to the fire!!! I hope they hung their head in shame today! So that was the evening’s entertainment. What an evening! Our evening didn’t end there, we stayed in live lunge until about 2.45 before I took the long walk back to bed all the way forward. As I waked through the ship I never saw another living sole, not a cleaner or a crew member of any description. I could not help but reach the Atrium and just have a Wow moment. You cant fail to let it take your breath away, especially when everything is so immaculately in place for the following day.
Mr C was about 10 minutes behind me and as soon as he entered the cabin he was on the phone ordering hot chocolate and fries. That was a fail, no fies. Cookies? No Sir, no cookies. Biscuits, ah ok, thank you yes some biscuits. Room service eventually arrived with a pot of hot chocolate and a plate of cream crackers!! Not even any cheese or butter lol
Wednesday 18th March 2015 – at sea
We had a 7.00am delivery of breakfast this morning. Well I say ‘breakfast’ it was of course a P&O attempt at something resembling breakfast. Standard fare of cold toast, watery orange juice, a muffin and a pot of tea. It attempted to fill a hole and woke me up in time for my 8.00am pedicure, which was its real purpose. I had somehow agreed to a 8.00am appointment in the spa for a pedicure. It was 20% off for this unearthly hour, some 5 hours after leaving the live lounge, which seemed worth it at the time. I donned some clothes and a smile and arrived on time after dropping by reception to ask if someone could go and check the air conditioning in the cabin because it seemed very stuffy in there, and aslo the toilet flush because it was very hit and miss if it worked or not. No problem they would send someone to take a look at both.
My pedicure was very nice, but the fact I was in a room with two others having the same treatment at the same time I found less than relaxing. Watching an older lady have her legs exfoliated as her excess skin fell away, and later her feet grated and a pile of dead skin fall to the dark brown floor quite turned my stomach! I avoided all hard sell of products throughout the hour experience by commenting that I had the very same Elemis product back home that I never have time to use and must make more of an effort. Her final attempt was a brand new product that was a simply must have. Despite her insistence I managed to resist the temptation to spend £40 on this new magic lotion.
As I headed back to the cabin Crosby the cabin steward stopped to ask me what the problem was with the toilet flush, I explained it was hit and miss if and when it flushed so he said someone would be along shortly. Back in the cabin, I climbed under the duvet and was soon awoken by a knock at the door and Mr C turning away said toilet engineer claiming that it was working fine! I really struggled to wake from my sleep in time to get ready for Peninsular lunch, so after a quick wash and brush up we out and heading for a noon lunch in Oriental. Captain and a couple of senior officers were doing the meeting and greeting and we were guided to our table 78 which turned out to be a table for 4 with a very nice couple by the name of Pauline and Trevor. From what I could see non of the tables were hosted. The Captain addressed us all before leaving and that was it. Not a word from the three Loyalty Managers, and I thought the least they could have done would have been to walk around the tables and do a bit of meeting and greeting, but no it was very much ‘enjoy your lunch, we are off’
And so it was back to bed, given the fact we were both still tired and the weather wasn’t upto much. It’s a hard life! Mr C checked out yet more documentaries on the TV
It was nice to get ready at leisure this evening starting with a long soak in the bath. Formal evening this evening and we decided to venture somewhere we hadn’t been for a while and that was Crows Nest. That turned out to be a mistake, it was rammed in there. No chance of a seat at the bar, but we managed to find a seat. Service was slower than a slow thing and I blame that on lack of waiters up there for the volume of passengers. The waiter hadn’t got a clue about the Gin menu, which again is a black mark in my opinion. If they work the Crows nest with a speciality drinks menu they need to know their onions
Now, Crows Nest is great but if you dine in Oriental Restaurant it is one heck of a trek to get there. The back of the ship is a long way! Our lovely wine waiter had managed to collect us a nice bottle of wine from the glass house because the over complicated thick book of wine available in the restaurant was too complex to select from for me. The meal was very nice, but the second repeat of menu I had experienced due to being on the two night shake own cruise preceding this one
After dinner we checked out Leanne Mitchel, winner of The Voice apparently, in the Theatre. Then went to see what was happening in Live lounge and that appeared to be some daft quiz show things so we retreated to a comfy chair in the Glass House with a glass of red fizz. The comfy hair turned out to be a mistake. We heard this very loud and clear calling from deck 12. It was my feather pillow and comfy bed, they needed me!
Thursday 19th March 2015 – Barcelona
When I woke up at just gone 7.30 am we were reversing back into berth, port side too. It wasn’t raining, the sky was clear, if a little grey and when I opened the balcony door it wasn’t blowing a gale. It’s taken a while but thats a bit of a result. Captain has just advised us it’s a bit chilly but is set to stay fine. We have to be back onboard for 3.30pm so it remains to be seen if we venture ashore or not
I have just been for a walk around the open decks. Checked out the little decks outside Glass House and then walked the full length of the ship up top. The sun is shining and I reckon with the right spot I could sit and catch a few rays.
I also found the Cookery Club for the first time. Call me slow off the mark but I’ve not exactly been looking for it. I was invited inside whilst they were setting up and had the most interesting and engaging chats with Rob Cottam the resident cookery school chef. He is pretty infectious and even made me half tempted to try cookery school. In my opinion he is more of a draw than some of the celebrity chefs too!
We decided not to go ashore, which turned out to be a wise decision I the end because when I was down at reception later this afternoon there was a couple who had been pick pocketed and had lost money, cards and passports because we were advised passports were a requirement if going ashore today! P&O looked to be dealing with the situation well. So, today we took up residence by the Serenity pool and I can tell that this would be my sunbathing area of choice, and I imagined I was in the hot sunny Caribbean! Mmm, nice! But reality was I was in a slightly overcast, but sunny. Barcelona. There was a definite chill in the air, especially when the cloud covering thickened, but it cleared again so we stuck it out. I knew it was a daft idea at the time, but the sun caught my face and is a little rosy red at the moment. Cocktail of the day was a strawberry daiquiris, so I had a couple of those which resulted in brain freeze! The pool water seemed warm to the touch so I might test that out properly one day.
Captain had advised that as soon as we set sail there would be a strong cross wind on the open deck of 60 miles an hour and he wasn’t far wrong, it soon whipped up when we sailed at shortly after 4.00pm. Neil and the team were whipping up the party atmosphere out by the main pools, and the crowd were loving it. I had to retreat to the biggest bubbliest bath ever. My bones were frozen
We are dining in The Epicurean Restaurant this evening.
Pre dinner drinks venue of choice was Sindhu for a Benares cocktail or two. I like it here and it’s a great place for people to drop by and chat. This evening Captain Paul, Wilson, Obi and Neil all dropped by for a catch up. Funny how they always find me at a bar!
Epicurean was divine. For those that have experienced XVII it’s similar but better in many ways. Fabulous service from Cherry who many would recognise from XVII. The presentation of food was elevated from what I remember in XVII and the amuse bouche selections were novelty and must try experience for me. My only criticism of the venue would be the lighting. I don’t know what it is with the lighting on this ship but someone needs to find the dimmer switch. It’s just too bright, like the main restaurants. What’s the point of trying to create an ambience with candles etc, if the lights are on full beam?! But overall a very enjoyable meal and experience.
Sounds of the Underground was the show in the Headliners Theatre, we managed to catch the end of it and sat at the back. Excellent show and refreshing to see new ones on a P&O ship.
Live Lounge was relatively quiet this evening, but somehow we were the last to leave, like the very last! Even the bartenders had locked up and left when we looked round.
Friday 20th March 2015 Monte Carlo
Despite not getting in until gone 4.30am this morning I was determined we were going to be on an early tender, because judging by the way I had witnessed some of my fellow passengers for different ports I thought the concept of waiting to be allocated a tender could become chaos. I had ordered room service breakfast for 7.00am. lol, that was not a welcome knock at the door! But by 8.10am we were both sat in the theatre, the muster point for todays tenders, with my ticket which indicated that I would be on the next available tender. Two tenders had already filled and left, so we were just waiting for the next two to come alongside. After about a 20 minute wait we were guided down to the tenders. Oh my days it was choppy. Even I felt it, ok so maybe the late night drinking session didn’t help. The crew of the tender really struggled to let the lines, due to the swell and the fact that there is no tender platform as such, so the tenders were tied into the hull of the ship. The new tenders seemed huge. It was a bit of a bumpy ride in places. Even when we made it into the harbour and tied up it was still bouncing around.
Our plan for the morning was a walk upto Café De Paris and then maybe across to the Palace for changing of the guard which to this day I have never seen. It was a very bright, crisp morning as we walked around the harbour. We had to negotiate a few road works as they prepared for Grand Prix season, which threw me a bit in an effort to find the lift in the cliff to take us up to Monte Carlo, but I found it eventually. Mr C was amazed at my capabilities of knowing of such an invention lol.
We walked down through the park, but oh my days what have they done? They have decided to fill it with futuristic pods of designer shops and outlets. They look hideous! That lovely green area is totally spoilt now. We usually sit at Café De Paris for a glass of fizz or two, but as it was chilly I opted for a latte coffee today and a strawberry tart. It’s a wonder Mr C didn’t choke on his when he saw the 38 euro tab that came with the order. Oh he was not amused. I was!! It was delicious and worth every penny. The weather was really misting over now. It was cold and we feared rain, so time to head back down the hill, for which I conveniently found a lift. These lift things are crazy. Very art deco chic tiled walkways which are totally deserted and lead to a rather grubby lift, but it’s functional. I think we got out at the wrong stop this time. We really should learn French and other foreign languages to aid us in our travels. When we got out and walked through the green tiled walkway we found ourselves in one of the grand Prix tunnels, oh well that’s another tick in the box. We continued down to a building that had fascinated Mr C from above, a hotel that was built like a ship! It fitted in perfectly which is what im sure the architect must have been paid a fortune for. We continued round past all the mega yachts and decided that the Palace was a step to far, so decide to curtail our adventure and head back to the ship as it was getting chilly. As we approached the tender there did seem to be an excessive amount of passengers just coming ashore and I wondered if tendering had been suspended for a while. We had no problem getting back onto a waiting tender and we were soon heading back out to Britannia. But oh it was choppy. It got very rock and roll at a few points, especially coming round the harbour wall. Once alongside, it was not an easy task getting off the tender and back onto the ship. We were pitching in the opposite direction to the ship and the difference in height to step back on board was very noticeable. I was clinging to Mr C and took full advantage of all assistance offered by the crew. I was glad to be back.
We hadn’t been back on board long when the Captain announced that he was doing his best to keep the ship stable and to use the ship to protect the tenders but it was becoming increasingly difficult. Not long after there was an announcement to advise that all shore leave was cancelled
Up by the Serenity Pool it was a totally different story. It was calm and lovely. I am loving thse white denser cage metal chairs, they don’t look it but they are very comfy. I enjoyed a nice chicken fillet and salad roll, courtesy of the Grill counter al fresco, and later I accompanied Mr C to the café while he had a chicken curry. I’m not a lover of the buffet café type venues so try to avoid eating here at all costs.
Time to catch up on sleep, easier for Mr C, I had about 10 mins. Captain was making announcements that I couldn’t here. Woman next door was creating a scene cos she tried to get in wrong cabin, then she was yelling about something else. I got in the bath and fell asleep
Woke up and looked at the wrong watch, so thought I was an hour later. As it turned out I was an hour ahead of myself. But either way it was time to get ready for the evening ahead in Limelight.
We weren’t really sure how Limelight worked. Was it first come first served for the table allocation? We had received our reservation card yesterday and it was difficult to tell if it started at 1900hrs as per the pre booking print out, or 1930hrs as per the hard to decipher reservation card, so after a swift pre, pre dinner drink in Glass House we head to Limelight for 1845. The restaurant manager looked at us gone out. Obviously it was 19.30 that it opens, but that wasn’t clear on the card. He went onto explain that the print out does advise it as 1900 but they felt it was too early so they amended to 1930. Tables were pre allocated so no need to rush. We decided to go to The Blue Bar for a drink as we hadn’t sat at that bar. Two other couples who had arrived for Limelight early did the same. Nice lush bar stools at The Blue bar. Nice bar menu of cocktails and nice bar staff. Why have I not been here before I ask myself? Too many bars, so little time!
We were on the second row of tables back in Limelight and allegedly they are allocated as to time of booking the venue. I guess that could be about right. I had originally booked to se Kiki Dee but swapped and cancelled about 10 days later to see Dean Andrews. An Entertainment officer explains how the evening will work. We order food and wine etc, first two courses are served and then before desert the act comes on for 15 ins and does a little pre show spot, which is in effect a warm up to check for sound and lighting. Sound and lighting technicians have gone very high tech. They now have ipad tablet type things and walk about the room adjusting light levels and sound from them. Food was absolutely lovey, not a great choice but all that I had was lovely. I had the lamb and Mr C had the fish. Dean Andrews was fantastic. I’m so glad that I chose to spend my money to see him in the end. What a lovely genuine guy. Fame hadn’t engulfed him, he was who he was and proud of his achievements. Great entertainer, and left me feeling he was singing for us and not at us. Brilliant night. After the act they try and encourage you to stay in there for a nightclub, which I think is a fabulous idea, but given that there are other things about to start at 1030pm a large percentage of passengers leave and only a few stragglers remain. Maybe if they made it more of a public venue after 1030, and promoted it as such via the Horizon paper, the room could become a success. As much as I would have loved to have stayed. Dean Andrews said that he will be on for a stint in June, and again most months after that.
We also left just before 1030 because we wanted to see Mark Walker the comedian in Live Lounge. Oh he is so funny! Some poor woman wouldn’t participate with his Irish dancing and she got chased all around the room until she ran out. She may still be locked in the ladies loo, who knows, lol. If you get the chance to see him, make sure you do. I don’t usually find comedians funny, but like many I cried laughing at this one. Another pleasant hour or so was spent at the Live Lounge bar with Mr & Mrs P. Brian made sure our glasses never ran dry and a good time was had by all.
Saturday 21st March 2015 – Civitavecchia
We are port side too again. We are berthed so far down the dock area in Civi with no other ships in port. I can only guess that we had to dock so far down due to our size.
Our day started with a stomp around the open decks, yes, I still have open decks that I have previously not discovered. At last I had found the 13th bar, the Arena Bar, right up top b the basketball courts and golf nets. It’s lovely up there, lots of rattan sofas and lounging about type areas. There are also giant tvs by the seating area of the bar complete with Nintendo wii’s. I don’t think anyone should be concerned about open deck space and sun loungers on Britannia. There are loads of them all over the place. Steps and stairs lead up to more and more secret areas of sun loungers etc. We just keep finding more and more. Just keep climbing and you will find them.
We dropped by Grab n Go in the hope of grabbing the usual sausage and egg muffin, but we were just too late. They were putting out the wraps etc for lunch. So I had to do the dreaded buffet for breakfast. Britannia’s Lido and Horizon buffet is superb, but I have a personal hate of the places. I dead touching the food tongues etc not knowing where people’s hands have been before I use them. I decided to have just tea and beans on toast. Oh my life, you should have seen the scowls I got off this woman because I dared to go and check out where the toast was before I went back for my beans. You would think I had broken the biggest unwritten rule re buffet dining etiquette. Next pet hate of mine re these buffet places, round and round in circles looking for butter and then the search for a seat. I was not a happy bunny by the time we found a quiet enough place. Like I say, as lovely as this buffet area is, I just detest the places and hopefully won’t be back.
There had been massive queues for the shuttle bus earlier, well it gives the passengers something to moan and groan about, and believe me some of them love a good moan and groan. It’s a big ship and if you all try to do things at the same time, chances are you are going to be in a queue. This is not Adonia! We decided to walk ashore despite it being quite a walk today as we were berthed further away than I can ever recall being berthed before. To be fair, as well as the complimentary shuttle service up to the town there were also plenty of taxis offering to take you for 3 euro. I’m guessing the majority of passengers chose to keep their 3 precious euro and preferred instead to stand in a queue for a free shuttle bus and moan. It turned out to be a heck of a brisk walk as the sea breeze whipped across the dock area. The revamping of the sea front had extended to the fort area too. All of that had also been restored and cleaned up with a lovely moat area around it. We walked up to the market but it wasn’t up to much today, and some of them were packing up for the day. The shops were shutting for their siesta, so after a little walk along the sea front we headed back towards the ship. The shuttle bus no longer drops and picks up by the port gate, and instead chooses to drop you a good distance away, quite away from the main shopping area that I am used to. That will be another new moan for some today I’m sure. We opted to walk back again, ooh it was a long way in that breeze.
Back on board we had promised ourselves a Glass House lunch. Mr C had the 3 small dishes and I had battered fish and chips and a large glass of FMC. After all that walking, lunch and my large glass of wine I could hear something calling me loud and clear, very loud. I tried to fight it and went up to the Serenity pool to see if it was warm and sunny up there. Indeed it was, but the call of the duvet won me over and I had to go and close my eyes properly. Ahh sleep!
We weren’t departing Civitavecchia until 7.30 this evening due to the fact that we arrived an hour late. We decided this evening might be a good evening to get a seat in Crows Nest and we weren’t too disappointed. No bar stools but lovey comfy seats to relax in whilst listening to the cocktail pianist. Mr C is trialling the gin menu this evening, whilst I had a cosmo. There is only one problem with Crows Nest and that’s the very long trek to the Oriental Restaurant right at the far aft of the ship. I can tell you how far it is. We left Crows and we were still tied up and berthed alongside. By the time we got to the restaurant, we had let go our lines and were well clear of the dock area. Brian was most concerned about me this evening because I didn’t eat my meal. I opted for the pork escalope with pasta but it turned out to be a weird combination in my opinion. Spaghetti pasta and sauce was lovely in its own right, but the pork fillet in breadcrumb placed on top was a step to far in my opinion. It was like two perfectly good meals thrown together on the same plate, but didn’t go together. I tried really hard to scoop up the pasta because it was lovely, but it needed to be in a bowl so that I could twiddle it up on my fork but it was on a plate. I gave up in frustration, then I ordered sorbet so Brian bought me three big scoops. I need to tell him one scoop is more than enough. Brian is lovely and the couple on the far table for two have some banter with him. John, the old boy, loves his custard and bread and butter pudding so he generally gets two or three portions. Tonight he has gone off the idea of bread and butter pudding and opted for ice cream instead, so Brian has bought him custard with it for a laugh. Brian is quiet, but so funny.
We were shattered and with it being Rome night there didn’t appear to be that much going on around the ship. We went and pressed our faces against the window to see how Kiki Dee was in Limelight. All I am going to say is that I was really, really glad I cancelled. She is just not my cup of tea at all. We decided to have a nightcap of a Baileys in the Blue Bar, and so I found another secret and very underused corner of the bar to enjoy our Baileys in utter total peace. We had the place to ourselves. Shame they haven’t put a little cocktail bar in the corner with two or three stools. It could be a lovely intimate late night drinking spot. Bit like the bar tucked away at the back of the spiral staircase on Canberra. And so it was a very early night for us.
Sunday 22nd March 2015 – Ajaccio
Yay, we are starboard side too. It’s been a long wait but at last we got the pretty port of the cruise. The sun is out and bouncing off the yachts and fishing boats in the harbour. The church bells are ringing. Mr C has fetched the breakfast from Grab n Go. Oh this is the life!
We took a very slow stroll into town, browsed the market and then headed across the square to the beach and sea front. Ooh it was chilly but fresh. We were probably only ashore an hour if that, but we were walking all the time so that’s classed as exercise.
Time for a lay down on the sunbeds by Serenity pool. I love it up here and I need to be in the Caribbean to get the full benefit of it – mmm that could be arranged! Enjoyed a couple of slices of pizza and was just settling down to look at the inside of my eyelids when the spots of rain started. We retreated to the cover of the bar and passed anther hour keeping the bar lads busy and chatting to the waiters. It must be a very long day for them when they have no passengers in their area
You know the drill by now, time to go check out my duvet. Oh it was good.
Pre dinner drinks in the Glass House but as the starburst had a blue glow about it this evening and I was wearing a long blue dress it seemed only right that I stand on the blue spiral staircase for a photo. It all went so well until I cooped up my dress to continue up the stairs, but with it being pleated I hadn’t scooped up enough of it and I tripped not once, but twice and had to compose myself. I do like to entertain! Recovery position at the Glass House bar and had a nice chat with Diane and Alan at the bar. Captain Paul dropped by to check everything was ok with our world, which of course it was. In fact we were having such a nice time in Glass House that we decided to stay and dine in there, so found some of the nice comfy seats and relaxed. We shared three small plates and then I had the sausage and mash while Mr C had surf and turf. Desert was a sharing one with crispy bacon! I kid you not. Weird but nice at the same time. We had a really lovely time chatting to the couple next to us, all was well until they turned to the couple on the other side of them and asked how they were enjoying the ship. Well, clearly they weren’t and they were very vocal about it. Don’t get me wrong, each to their own, you can’t please all of the people all of the time etc, but these were like coiled springs and just didn’t shut up once they started. I don’t think they offered one positive about the ship, and I found some of their comments unjustified and unfair if I’m honest. It had clearly spoilt the lovely ladies experience who was sat next to me and she instantly asked for the bill and they made a very swift exit. Time for us to leave too.
We were in time to see Tucker the ‘Hilarious comedian’ in Live Lounge. I have to say I didn’t find him as funny as Mark Walker who had been on the previous evenings but each to their own. I had more entertainment sitting on a chair by Jimmy James and listening to him laughing. The one bit I did find very funny was when the comedian was singing a song and a passenger got up to have a jig around and a dance. Now that was hilarious and the comedian worked it big time. He had two of them in the end and it was just so funny. Once the comedian had finished I was able to retrieve a bar stool and place it back at the bar from the high tables and resume my normal position. Brian, my favourite bartender is on full form and ensures my glass is always refreshed. Oh it was a late one, like a very very late one. I blame Mr & Mrs P and Dave and Michelle, these fellow passengers are such a bad influence. I ask you is 3.45am any time to be leaving such a late night venue!
Back in the cabin Mr C is on the phone trying to convince someone to bring him some pasta bolognaise, there are times when I could shoot him. He settled for a ham, lettuce and tomato baguette followed by bruschetta and a pot of hot chocolate. I just hide my head under the duvet when room service arrives. And yes, he did eat it, all of it!
Monday 23rd March 2015 – at sea
Well after that late night it was a relativity late wake up for us this morning. No room service breakfast, no grab n go, just a cup of tea and a P&O biscuit. We had a little diversion to Serenity and picked up a BLT from the chilled Grab n Go enroute. The sun was lovey and warm up at Serenity at times, but when the clouds covered it, it was rather chilly. Shortly after Officer of the Watch, Lizzies, noon announcement we moved on in search of food for Mr C. he decided on a little Nashata in Sindhu, but I was content with my earlier BLT. We passed a nice hour chatting with Kate and hubby who happened to be on the next table for us. My next mission was to have a chat with the loyalty guy re a little issue I have, but after waiting 15 mnutes I moved on. Meanwhile Mr C was in the pub having a beer flight in Brodies. By the time I caught up with him it looked like he had pepper in one of them. Beer is a whole new world to me and not one that I partake in. He looked to be having a nice time though.
In light of the fact we have a 5.30pm cocktail party to attend this evening we needed to rest our eyelids. We had a whole hour, which was not long enough. How come there are not enough hours in the day at sea? Crosby the cabin steward was just bringing our canapés in at 5.30 as we left, but Mr C had those earmarked for scoobie snacks later tonight. The cocktail party was in the Marlow Suite/ Ivory Suite but there were way too many people in there and it was way too hot. I thought I would pass out. I have to say that I was glad to get out of there once the formalities were over. We decided tonight would be a good opportunity to catch the first show at 7.00pm so we headed for the Headliners Theatre to see Once upon a Time. It was packed, with hardly a seat to be seen, so we stood for a while and watched. What bit we saw was very good. Up to date songs with fairy tale settings and very good stage effects. It looked a very good show, but I wasn’t prepared to stand at the back of the theatre having been stood in a very hot room for the last hour and half. As we left the theatre we bumped into Nigel who we had been stood chatting to at the cocktail party so we headed to the Glass House bar together where I relished my sit down on my bar stool and a chilled glass of Pellar. Captain Paul dropped by and we all spent a very pleasant time passing the time of day away.
It really wouldn’t have bothered me if we had skipped our evening meal this evening, but we thought there might be an inquest if we didn’t show up again. Absolutely no issues or complaints about the food in the main dining room. I has all been extremely good, I’m just a bit fooded out. I had the tomato soup and the roast rib of beef. Mr C had the soup, steak and a biryani!! Which he ate all of. Tiredness was catching up with me. We had to get out of the restaurant in search of some liveliness, and we had no idea what was on as we never seem to read the Horizon and take note. Pulse were on in Live Lounge and they are excellent, but at that moment in time just a tad too loud for me. I needed to loose my shoes and get more comfortable so we headed to the cabin. En route we bumped into Jon and Linda and arranged to meet in Blue Bar for a drink. Oh that was better, far more civilised, cool and comfy on the lush sofas. A nice quiet drink and a chat, is sometimes all you need during the evening. Afterwards, we really should have headed back to Live Lounge but we simply didn’t have the energy. As we headed to the cabin I heard the din of Brodies from up the spiral stairs and had to go an investigate. Oh my lordy it was karaoke night! Had people really been sitting listening to the likes of this all evening. Well I suppose it is entertainment.
Tuesday 24th March 2015 – Cartagena
Thanks to Mr C and his stupid mobile phone we were woken at 6.45 again this morning! I was not a happy bunny. Cartagena is jut gliding by as we berth and we are starboard side too just as Captain Paul promised me. It’s a bit grey and overcast but 13 degs so there is hope.
Costa Coffee and cherry muffin time in Java before we do anything with our day. That, for us, is breakfast today.
There has been some local folklore actors and dancers doing some sort of Roman re enactment on the dockside below our balcony, and the din from their drums is too much, even with the balcony doors shut. Thankfully they had finished by the time we disembarked. We waked along the dockside to the front of the ship to get some photos of the bow and started chatting to an English couple who I had presumed were fellow passengers. Then the penny dropped with her that I was a passenger on board, and they were just down from their holiday home to have a look at Britannia. Well, talk about saying what you are thinking. She seemed astonished that I was a passenger on board as she looked me up and down. I asked her if she had expected me to be floating around in a ball dress at this time and she said I didn’t come across as being that posh! We headed back towards the dock gates to walk into town and all along the path and seafront were fellow Brits who must live out here, or at least winter out here. They were all keen to tell me how good the weather usually is and how hot, scorching in fact, it had been at the weekend. P&O really should pay me a fee for my services this morning because I seemed to do nothing but answer questions about P&O Britannia. At least we are flying the flag for Britain. Cartagena is a very pretty port in my opinion and we got some good shots of Britannia across the harbour despite the thickening grey clouds. By the time we reached the main shopping precinct in Cartagena it had started to rain, and as the rain got heavier we got further away from the ship. It wasn’t fit for walking around in, and despite having my brollie with me it wasn’t doing a very good job of keeping Mr c expensive camera dry so we headed back to the ship.
Time to think about lunch. I fancied a jacket potato, just something simple, so we checked out the menu in the dining room but nothing we really fancied, I knew Mr C was keen to go to Glass House so we settled for there. It was bust and at first we struggled to get a seat. When we did eventually get a seat I wasn’t happy because we seemed to be trapped in a noise zone with large groups of people around us competing for air time. But it settled when they moved on. We were joined at the table by a lovely couple Richard and Shirley and enjoyed a chat about anything and everything for a couple of hours as we had our individual lunches. I had the burger sliders. Impressive!
By the time we sailed we had glorious sunshine and it really was very pleasant on the balcony. People had lined the shore out by the rocks and lighthouse to wave us off. This is what it’s all about. Always something new around the corner. It’s been a lovey day one way and another. Met some nice people over lunch, had a chat, had a walk, proudly admired ‘my ‘ ship
This evening is the peninsular party. I’m never over keen to attend anymore, and this feels even less special due to the fact that I think 3000 passengers are eligible to attend this cruise, so many that they have four parties split over two nights. Non the less, I was still spitting feathers over not being invited, or advised of, the embarkation lunch for top tier passengers, so I felt the need to attend. It would give Mr Peninsular a chance to come over and catch up with me and give me some feedback re my query with him on day two. Ha! Who was I kidding?! Loyalty Managers are not what they used to be!! It was a very nice party, two film presentations, one of the Naming Ceremony and one of the ship builder’s handover. The drinks were flowing and the canapés looked very inviting and were plentiful. Plenty of officers in attendance, pity that 80% of them still haven’t mastered the art of socialising for 30 minutes and prefer to stay in their own packs.
We had a dinner date in Sindhu this evening with Mr & Mrs T. the lovely restaurant Manageress from Azura remembered us – how could she forget?! It was very busy in here and most nights that we have passed by it seems to have been operating on more covers than the other bookable outlets. The food as always was divine, and my chocolate bomb was the envy of the others lol. Nice but very naughty! I think I am past caring now, at least until the end of the week. We were one of the last tables to leave, must be the good company we keep.
By the time we made it to Live Lounge we had missed the entertainment for the evening which I think I am correct in stating was Dusty Springfield Tribute, but who knows, who cares. All I know if it wasn’t one I was rushing out to make sure I seen. We were joined at the bar by Mr H and Michelle, and much hilarity was enjoyed for the rest of the evening until the wee small hours once again. It didn’t help when Michelle decided to have a fight with her barstool, she knew the barstool would win!! Then Mr Chadwick decided to share his Room Service story with them. It was the other night when Mr C decided he needed to have room service, in the form of pasta. First of all he couldn’t find the menu, but then you do need to be a genius these days to realise that its in the back of the small glossy magazine. He eventually found the ‘throughout the night, always available’ selection and chose the pasta dish of Cannelloni. Gets through to room service only to be told
“its not available Sir”
But it has to be available, its always available
“no sir, at this time, it is not available” … and so it went on until he settled for his soup and a roll
The next night he tried again, thinking it was only ‘not available’ the night before, but in fact the “always available” isn’t always available, i.e. when its not available
So unbeknown to me, this morning he had called reception to ask why his ‘Always available throughout the night’ was not available
“Ah Mr Chadwick, I see you tried to order pasta at 3.50am”
Yes that’s correct, but I was told it wasn’t available
“that’s correct sir, it was not available”
But it states its ‘always available, throughout the night’
“yes sir, but it wasn’t available when you called. Would you like me to check to see if there is some available for you now”
At that point Mr C could take no more and thanked the reception staff for their time
So back to this evening and following a late night in Live Lounge once more Mr C is back on the quest for room service. He has realised that he is flogging a dead horse re the pasta, so chooses something else, then gets into bed, puts on the TV and waits. 20 mins later the phone rings at the other end of the cabin
“Hello Sir, can you open the door I have your room service”
Off he trots to the door, nobody there. He waits, nobody there, and then gets back in bed disgusted.
5 minutes later….. phone rings
“Hello Sir, its room service, please will you go to the door and let me in”
So off he trots to the door, waits, and nobody arrives!
“Hello Sir can you tell me your cabin number. You are not coming to your door”
Clearly he was never at the correct door in the first place, but somehow knew the cabin number to dial it?!
I’m under my duvet and staying there!
Wednesday 25th March 2016 – Cadiz
Ooh it’s sunny and we have a fireboat welcome, but first we had to do a pirouette in the harbour. That’s a better welcome than we have had in most ports. There was also some sort of parade of Soldiers, but sorry Captain Paul, I wasn’t listening to what you said, so I’m not sure what all of that was about. I could see them coming across town and then they went to the port side of the ship where we were berthed so I have no idea what was going on.
Serenity was calling to me in this lovely sunshine, so we didn’t bother to go ashore. We collected a Grab n Go breakfast en route and bedded down under the clear blue sky. Bliss, total bliss! Breakfast was closely followed by a strawberry daiquiris, and then a nice refreshing G&T. and so, to sleep! If only I hadn’t dribbled and woke myself up looking very unattractive with an open mouth. Shame, it was a nice sleep too. I could feel my skin tingling so decided I had enough sun for the day and retreated to the cabin for a nice soak in the bath. At least I can hear Captains Pauls anno0uncements in the bath, because that’s where the speaker is! Captain Paul has suggested we dress in red, white and blue for the biggest and best ever sailaway party that P&O Cruises has ever held. Mmm, I don’t have red, white and blue in my wardrobe!
Captain Paul told us it was going to be windy as we left Cadiz, and he wasn’t wrong. Standing right on the very top deck overlooking the pool didn’t help, its not as if there was any shelter up there. But oh what a party. I confess to not being a lover of the sailaway parties, all a bit too cheesy for me. Maybe I need to drink more. But!! Oh what a sailaway party!! I confess to getting a lump in my throat at one point, and when Sailing came on it was time to exit stage left!
Mr C ventured down to Brodies this evening whilst I got ready for the evening ahead and it was pre dinner drinks in the Glass House this evening. Im not sure how, but we were rather late for dinner this evening. I blame Captain Paul, he drops by the bar for a chat and a glass of water, and its all downhill from there. We had chosen to eat dinner in the Oriental this evening, but then some bright spark later informed us that it was Tandoori evening up in the buffet, doh! Why do I never remember these things or take note of such things in Horizon or on the LCD screens. Hey ho.
We were straight into Live Lounge after dinner and the 80’s live music was excellent. Absolutely no complaints about the entertainment, house bands, tribute acts or shows etc from us. It was a rocking night, in more ways than one. The ship was bobbing around a bit this evening. Mr C was fighting with his eyelids all evening. He shouldn’t have gone to Brodies and should have had a nap instead, but in the end I could suffer his pain no longer and so we walked the walk to deck 7 forward lifts, out at deck 12 and into C319. I made the mistake of popping open the balcony door. Ooh it was blowing a proper gale out there. Could be an interesting night, so I swallowed a sea sickness pill just to be on the safe side. Nothing worse than hangover mixed with sea sickness.
Thursday 26th March 2015 – at Sea
I have no idea how rock n rolling it got in the night, because much to Mr C’s disgust, I passed out and never woke until 11.30 lol. Don’t you just love Avomine. Mr C was ok, he was watching a Tom Hanks movie on the TV. He loves that TV!
So today is the day that 2016 itineraries went live for P&O and Cunard, and I appear to have slept through it. How bad is that?! I quickly fired up the laptop to make sure all is well with the world of new itineraries but Lizy has it all under control back at GoCruisewithJane Towers.
First stop of the day was Java for a Costa coffee and a muffin, and then onto the shops. The Britannia shops are fab, much better than other ships and are actually pleasant to browse around. I didn’t make a purchase of any kind.
I decided I needed to do a little bit of packing, just to get me started, so one case was completed before heading off to Eric Lanlards afternoon tea in Epicurian.
I can highly recommend Eric Lanlards afternoon tea and well worth the £15pp cover charge in my opinion. We were shown to a little booth for two, which I liked. Nice comfy sofa type bench seats and our own little private space. The cakes and savouries looked exquisite, and I refused to let Mr C touch until tea was served. Some of the tea selections looked tempting, but I opted for the good old breakfast tea. I didn’t want to be spoiling my delicacies with fancy flavours. Tea just shouldn’t be messed with. Speaking of fancy flavours – ever had a chocolate macaroon and duck sandwich! Well I have. Cant say I would go out of my way for another one, and I cant see Mr C choosing one for his lunch box at work, but I can see where Eric was going with this one, it works, in a very weird kind of way. It would help if I liked duck, which I don’t, but I ate it. Im more of a cake and seets kind of girl and oh my days, he nearly beat me. I was down to one scone and two cakes ain the end and didn’t think I would manage it, but I did. Seriously, you have to go there. Of course, the icing on the cake for me was when Eric Lanlard walked in the room. It was lucky for him I was there too because the poor bloke was like a rabbit startled in the headlamps when he approached the first table. Oh boy, things were not right for them, nothing was right, not one bit of it, and poor Eric got both barrels, for absolutely no reason. He didn’t get much better reception at the second table, but welcome to table three Mr Lanlard. I confess, I very nearly didn’t let him out again. He was even impressed that I knew what to do with the pipette of red coulis, ha ha, ok so I asked a waitress!
Tonight is formal night, and at this point I could show you the stunning new dress I had planned to wear. Not such a good idea after nearly three weeks of gala nights, inaugural celebrations and lots of food and drink. Me and said dress had a bit of a fight and a tantrum first thing this morning, and I lost that fight. No way was I attempting it again after Erics Tea, so it was an old faithfull to the rescue, comfy she is too! We decided there was no way we could face a full on Gala Meal in the Oriental this evening, and decided it was time to give the Beech House another go. It has been really difficult to get into all cruise apparently as its popularity grew, so our thinking was last formal night, gala night etc would draw the crowds to the main dining room. We were up there for about 7.20pm and given a pager and advised it would be about 40 minutes wait – perfect! Sindhu Bar it is then. We also acted as the test case for the pager working that far down the ship as Restaurant Manager was unsure, but I don’t think I was quite ready for 40 mins in the sunset bar heading towards the Bay of Biscay. The pager did work loud and clear, in fact it was too loud, much too loud and I couldn’t shut it up. Mr C had chosen that exact same time to use the facilities, but when he got to the midship one it was being serviced, so instead of going to the aft one he headed all the way forward to the one by the theatre. That’s nearly in the next village. Meanwhile the bleeper bleeped its head off, and wrapping it in my dress wasn’t toning it down much. In the end I went without him. He caught me up just as I was explaining the delay to the restaurant manager. Poor bloke thought his bleeper hadn’t worked down on deck 7.
This evening’s meal was superb. Excellent in fact and was a great choice for us. Im getting to that all fooded out stage of the cruise. I had the sizzling chicken wrap and the sizzling strawberries and oh boy did they sizzle. Mr C was equally impressed with his seafood hanging kebab. After dinner we went for a stroll around seeing what was on where. I wanted to see the Take That tribute band Beautiful Wo9rld but they were on at 10.45pm so there was a while to wait yet. We contemplated having a drink in Glass House but Mr C could hear something calling him from deck 12 – his pillow! Don’t panic we didn’t call it a night, we just took the opportunity to rest our eyes in the coolness and tranquillity of our cabin. it was a blissful hour. And the good news is we were now ready to party. My heels got put back in the wardrobe and out came the diamante flip flops. Live Lounge here we come!
The Take That tribute were fantastic. Well done P&O at providing yet another brilliant evening of entertainment in the Live lounge. You might be winning me back round P&O! Live Lounge was busy, but it always has been when the entertainment has been on. The night was yet young and the regulars were out in force this evening. We had a full house at the bar with all present company accounted for. Oh what a laugh we have, pasta, pandas and Russian spies were the main cause of conversation and hilarity this evening. Mr C photo bombed one of the Take That Tribute bands selfies on their phone – their faces were priceless. Mr H, whos tag line has always been ‘another two of these and I will be dancing’ (rum & coke) but he never does. Until this evening!!! Even with his air boot, I can confirm that Mr H took to the dance floor but twice. At 2.00am there was nearly a passenger riot when the lights came on. Were they trying to tell us something? A few chants from the passengers and they were soon dimmed again, much to the cheering of winning passenger power. And so the night went on with the same level of hilarity that we started with. Twice they attempted to get the lights back up, and twice the passengers revolted and won. The bar staff claim that it is all automatically done on a timer. Oh really! Well the timer needs fixing, or breaking. We left at about 3.45am, but we weren’t the last ones out, not by a long straw. Oh what a night!
Friday 27th March 2015 – at sea
So, its here. The penultimate day. I confess to missing most of the morning and woke up at gone 11.30am much to Mr C’s disgust. He likes to take the mickey because I am usually up and about at the crack of dawn. Time to vacate the cabin to allow Crosby to bring some order to the place, so that I can come back in and pack . Euhw, packing : (
Breakfast, lunch and brunch came in the form of a Costa coffee and a prawn batch – that’s a bread roll, bap or buttie to those less educated in the world of ‘batches’. It was rather delicious. Getting a seat was not easy at this late hour though. Usual last day milling around by people who decide to try the places that they haven’t tried the previous 13 days. I note that the Future Cruise desk was absolutely mobbed. Sore subject with me because they went live with the new 2016 itineraries 24 hours ahead of the embargo and were taking direct bookings only for pre registrations. Ooh yes, don’t lets get me on that particular soap box! Tempted as I was to set up at the coffee bar and attract passing trade with my lap top, and very efficient pre registration service for 2016 cruises, I thought better of it. Like the rest of the cruise, if you happened to have a ‘Loyalty’ query for the team it was a case of ‘good luck with that one’ Sour grapes, me?
And so the packing, oh yes, packing. I hate packing at the end of the cruise. Mr C was naturally no help at all. He claims he stood in the wardrobe area and passed me a few things, but in truth he was just in my way. Shoes, why did I bring so many shoes. They all need to be paired, and wrapped and carefully packed so diamantes don’t get knocked, or toes pushed in. I wore them all, I think, so that’s something. I had 5 suitcases this time, yes 5 suitcases! By my own admission that was too many, but it was a logistical nightmare packing for all the pre inaugural events to this one. Plus I had Wedgewood teacups and champagne to pack, and any other bits I have picked up along the way.
Time for a drink me thinks and Glass House is the place for that, call it a mid afternoon nightcap, cos after that I was in need of a lay down again. I just managed to sneak an hour in before my final bath of the cruise.
Oh what to do this evening. We really didn’t fancy the Oriental restaurant again. I think Freedom dining is the way forward for us next time. Food has been great, waiters were some of the best we have experienced, but I found the annexe that we were allocated to a little claustrophobic. Maybe it would be better in the summer if I could see daylight out of the window, but we were in a corner, about six inches away from the next table for two and due to the confines of the annexe it was all too much for me. We made a last minute decision to dine in Glass House, why? Because we could. It was busy though and finding a table was not easy. We perched on our bar stools for a while and then I spotted two of my fave armchairs become available overlooking the Atrium. I also spotted a woman right over in the far corner, by the future cruise desk, spot the same chairs. Oph she was like a greyhound out of a trap. Too slow! Oooh talk about if looks could kill, well I actually thought she was going to kill someone. Despite the fact that Mr C was already on the one armchair, and I was more or less in the other, she still seemed to think that she had a right to sit in the other chair. I will leave it to you to guess who won.
We placed our order and were advised it was a 45 minute wait for food due to it being so busy this evening. That was fine with us, we had nothing else planned. The waiter was more than surprised at our choice of table for dining with it being a low drinks table. I explained it would be like being at home in front of the tv, and the three decks of the Atrium was our TV this evening. Ooh the people watching you can do from these seats around the top of the Atrium is pretty impressive. We had a three small plate starter to share, and then I had chicken and Mr C had crab. Unfortunately mine was non to warm so had to go back to be changed. I couldn’t help but smile at the waiters apology for it being cold. He seemed serious with his explanation that the weather had now turned colder so it was difficult to keep warm. Another for the great book of P&O excuses lol.
Time to wander down to Live Lounge for the last party time. As you can imagine it was all a little subdued. The band were excellent as always, and people were up and dancing. Neil Oliver came for his last kiss and cuddle of the cruise. Eric Lanlard was still trying to get over his trauma in afternoon tea yesterday bless him. Of all the Celebrity chefs Eric is my favourite, what a lovely (and dishy) man he is! And so the final walk the entire length of the ship along deck 7. Through Sindhu, past the photo shop and Future Cruise desk. Out into the upper deck of the Atrium. We had to go across to Raiston and thank him for looking after us. He was the first to serve me and lizy a drink on the Gala Naming event, the first to serve me and Mr C a drink on the shakedown and the first to serve us a drink on the Maiden. He makes the best Cosmopolitans on Britannia and he knows his wine. He hopes to be wine host on Azura soon so I hope he makes it because he deserves it. Through the Crystal room to the forward lifts and along to C319 our little home from home this cruise. Clothes of the evening were placed into the fifth and final case and I had the job of placing it outside. That was it, it was nearly all over.
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Southampton
Oh now it really is all over. We have no intention of taking breakfast this morning and are hoping for an early exit. We have a 7.45 disembarkation slot, so we were no sooner out of bed, drawers and shelves checked again for stray items and we laoded ourselves up with hand luggage and headed down to deck 5 midship to disembark. Our meeting point was the Meridian Restaurant, but as we approached it they were already starting to filter out to the airbridge so we went more or less straight off the ship without entering the restaurant. We did spot the German spy approaching from the Meridian restaurant, but when I tried to capture it on camera he wasn’t there 😮 he must have had his invisible cloak on.
CPS Parking have done it again, pay an absolute flaming premium for this valet parking malarkey and they park the car practically back in Southampton. Honestly the car could not have been any further away. Extreme top left hand corner, three cars away from the most furthest point of the car park. Luckily it wasn’t raining. After the logistical nightmare of emptying the car of hat box, naming ceremony attire, gifts and champagne, the rest of the luggage was loaded in and then the remaining bits packed in around it. 8.43 am and we were on the road again, heading home. Mr C did ever so well. He drove all the way without sat nav woman or any pointers from me, but at the last minute I took my eye off the road and was busy looking at my phone. Next thing I knew he had sailed straight past junc 15 of the M40 and had missed our tuning. Stupid boy! We then had to endure the M42 on a busy Saturday morning in the driving rain. Oh yes, back down to earth with a bump!
So what do I really think of Britannia? Have you worked it out yet? I LOVE her!!!! There I have said it. We had a fabulous time on the Maiden Cruise. I had no real niggles, and some of the moans and gripes of others I personally think I unjustified. Midship stairs, or lack of seem to be causing an almighty hooha. So the facts – there are crew stairs which will be opened up in an emergency. Did all those that originally clambered to book midship not notice the lack of stairs on the deck plan, or realise it from researching the similar ships or Royal and Regal Princess. We were more forward and so the forward stairs and lifts were the most convenient for us to use. We never had any issue with the lifts, never waited very long at all. In fact we always commented how fast they were at getting from A to B. A bit like Star Trek lifts apparently (I don’t watch it)
Balconies – I am fed up of hearing this one. I had no issues with my balcony. Ok, so they are nothing like the C or D deck balconies of Azura or Ventura, but compare them to standard balconies of Aurora, Adonia or Oceana for a true comparison and which one comes out on top? Britannia. They are clean, nice decking, glass fronted and they serve the purpose they were intended for. Sitting on and watching the world go by.
Cabins – I saw most type of grades whilst I was on board for my epic adventure and for me my choice would be Superior deluxe balcony or a nice aft suite with big corner balcony. For me, MY minimum standard would be Superior deluxe balcony. I like the extra space, I like the bath, and i9 like the fact I have a decent sofa to sit on when I have work to do at my lap top. I have become somewhat of a cabin snob over recent years. Long gone are the days of an inside four berth without facilities for me! But having said all that all of the cabins are well designed and nicely furnished. TV’s are great, always something to watch. And we had more than ample storage in the superior deluxe. Opposite our cabin was one of the larger insides and I liked their layout better than the standard insides. I sneaked into one of the single balcony cabins on the last morning. They were compact, but a great space for one with a balcony to call their own.
Food – we enjoyed all of the dining outlets. No complaints about the food. We had the little hiccup in the Beach House the first time we ventured in there, but I’m sure that’s all it was just a hiccup. Food in the main dining room was much improved over recent times. Plated meals are obviously a step in the right direction, with food being better presented and hotter. We don’t mind the extra cover charges for the alternative dining venues. We knew before we booked what would be chargeable etc, so I don’t understand some people objections to the additional charge venues. There is more than enough variety of food options included in the cruise fare, so if additional supplement charges for alternative dining isn’t for you, you won’t go hungry.
Entertainment – well this is coming from the girl that doesn’t particularly do entertainment. I can take it or leave it and I am just as happy sat in a quiet bar doing a bit of people watching and having a chat. But I have to say, I was impressed with all of the entertainment that I experienced on Britannia. Great new tribute acts. Good resident bands, and the shows in the theatre were refreshing. I really enjoyed Limelight and it was worth the £22pp cover charge in my opinion to have something a little more exclusive.
And so, in short, after all my ramblings I didn’t like Britannia, I loved her! I even like the controversial paint job and blue funnels. She just wouldn’t look right with buff funnels and sleek white paint, because she isn’t the most slender of girls. We had a fabulous time, met some great people and had lots of laughs. We enjoyed the food and the service. The entertainment was very good. What’s not to like. We were sad to disembark, so that’s always a good sign. I loved investigating all her nooks and cranies and finding the random bits of art that have been mentioned during her build. She has some great features, and fabulous facilities. I’m glad she has been built differently to anything else afloat at the moment, and I think it was the right decision to use a company that is more used to designing hotels.
If you are due on Britannia anytime soon, go with an open mind. Don’t compare her to other ships in the fleet. She is the new era of P&O, and personally I like it!
Britannia will always be special to me, probably because I sat there in the glorious sunshine on 10th March in Southampton and watched Her Majesty The Queen, press the button that broke the champagne across the hull of Britannia as she spoke the words “I name this ship Britannia, God bless her and all who sail on her” I feel I was present at Britannia’s birth and watched her blossom into a fine young lady over the next few weeks. For now, Britannia is my favourite ship in the P&O fleet. She has a lot to offer so go on board, make the most of what she has to offer and enjoy all of her facilities.