P&O Cruises: Rule Britannia!
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Proud to be British? You bet we are
Showcasing the best of British, the launch of the latest and largest ship in P&O’s fleet, Britannia, was a very special occasion.
March 2015 was quite a day down in Southampton.
Union Jacks fluttered in clear blue, sunny, skies, as a very large ship glistened
in the harbour waiting to be christened by the Queen. Admired across the globe, the world’s most
famous Silver Traveller, Her Majesty was
(apparently) on outstanding form and stayed on board much longer than scheduled
– a royal seal of approval if ever there was one. Following closely behind the royal
departure, Debbie and I flew the flag for Silver Travel Advisor and carried out
a rigorous inspection on behalf of all you equally keen and well travelled, but-not-quite-so-high-profile,
am happy to report Britannia definitely rules the waves.
its 18 decks towering above all the other vessels in the harbour, the ship
makes a very big first impression. And once on board, the big impressions just
keep on coming. It came as no surprise to learn P&O had hired the
services of a top-notch design company, responsible for some very smart London
hotels, to ensure they achieved stylish, contemporary, interiors, that are both
easy-on-the-eye and instantly relaxing. Think
of an upmarket, luxury, boutique-style hotel that floats.
the design and build even started, P&O undertook lengthy consultations
with more than 20,000 thousand people to ensure they built not only a stylish
ship, but one where the facilities would provide an experience and ambience that
specifically appealed to the UK market. Consequently, their claim that “Britannia is the embodiment of the best
of modern British culture and the nation’s ship” is a fair one.
quality of the furnishings is evident throughout and the decoration is complimented
by stunning artwork. In the Atrium, with
its three levels of cafes, shops and a sweeping spiral staircase, there is a spectacular
centerpiece sculpture, Star Burst, made from 280 acrylic shards, which shimmer
and shine, that is a real focal point. Elsewhere, throughout the ship, there
are more than 6,000 pieces of original artwork, all commissioned specifically
through the many lounges and bars (13), restaurants (13), places to enjoy
entertainment (9) including a 936 seat theatre complete with an LED wall, the
subtle changes to the muted colour palette – silver, grey, cream, olive, taupe,
blue, gold – beautifully reflect and compliment the atmosphere of the different
areas on board. The cabins are very comfortable and provide everything you
would expect from a ship of this calibre.
The majority of the 1,837 cabins have balconies; the superior deluxe
cabins have a separate lounge area; the suites – essentially the size of two
cabins – have bathrooms with whirlpool bath and are extremely spacious with personal
Butler service. There are also a small number of purpose-built single cabins.
the importance we gourmet Brits now attach to food and the influence of big
names on the British culinary scene, P&O have employed six stars who have
each contributed their expertise to create food and drink to suite all tastes
and style of dining. Championed as Britannia’s Food Heroes and described as “a
gold-winning Olympic team of foodies” they include Marco Pierre White, James
Martin and Eric Lanlard who, with a further 10 celebrity chefs, including Mary
Berry and Antonio Carluccio, will be on a number of sailings throughout the
year. I think it safe to assume the food
will not disappoint! Certainly our Gala dinner was delicious, as was the wine.
only have P&O elevated the art of eating to another level, they have also
recognized the art of cooking itself holds a special place in the British
psyche, as the plethora of TV cookery shows attest. If you’ve always fancied
cooking with some of our best-loved and famous chefs this could be your chance
in the stunning state-of-the-art cookery school! Headed up by James Martin, who will
personally lead some of the classes, as will some of the other celebrities when
on board. The school is spectacular in terms of layout and equipment, as each station
is fully plumbed with hobs and prep space, allowing for a fully participative
experience. And, unlike Master Chef or
Bake-Off where you are left to sink or swim with your mistakes recorded in all
their glory for the delight of the viewers at home, here the only cameras will
be those focused on the celebrity chef enabling participants to pick up all of
the finer detail to make it easy to follow – Master Chef without the tears and
everyone is a winner. Not only that,
there is also the opportunity to have an intimate lunch or dinner with your culinary
hero at the chef’s table in the cookery school. Where else could you have that
we are not cooking, or singing, we Brits are dancing. In recognition of the huge resurgence of
interest in ballroom dancing, there will be a 14 night Strictly Come Dancing
themed cruise in July, with four of the show’s stars showcasing their fancy
footwork. Classes and dancing will take place in the grandeur of the Crystal
room, complete with wooden dancing floor and chandeliers. If you are still hoping to learn a few new
steps and glide across the floor like a pro, don’t forget to pack your dancing
shoes and limber up beforehand!
you are thinking about a family cruise, Britannia may be a good option for taking
grandchildren, with inside 4-berth cabins and larger suites with pull-out sofa
beds. Much thought has gone into
entertaining all generations with quiet adult zones, child-friendly areas and activities
that should appeal to everyone. There
are also special children’s meals in the restaurants as well as a dedicated
children’s buffet at 5pm to help take the stress out of feeding the family. The
Reef Club provides age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages, including a
very hip room for teens to hang with their friends from early morning until
late at night, with the added bonus of a night nursery from 6pm to 2am to allow
parents and grandparents time to Tango!
sun-worshipers will want to spend time lazing on the Lido deck around one of
several pools. I didn’t stop to count all the sunbeds but I can confirm there
were a large number. I dare say not a
sunbed for every person on board, but enough to stop early morning towel wars -
but we British don’t usually do that do we?
For those who like serious relaxation The Retreat is an exclusive
outdoor spa area where numbers are limited and a range of treatments are
offered in luxurious surroundings. For
ultimate relaxation, though, you can be pummeled and pampered to your heart’s
delight in the Oasis Spa with its treatment rooms and hydrotherapy suite and
fanatics will not be disappointed: a large well-equipped gym, spinning classes,
aerobics studio, full-sized sports court and the more genteel traditional cruise
deck activities such as quoits and shuffleboard are all available. Something for everyone, including nothing, if
that’s what you want.
a maximum passenger capacity of 3,6,47 and a crew of 1,350 service levels
should not disappoint.
Britannia has a good choice of 2-14 Day sailings, departing from Southhampton. You can visit their site for more up to date information, But, quite frankly, if you go on a very short voyage, you wont have time
to experience everything this fabulous ship has to offer and may only just have
managed to find your way around before it’s time to disembark! I suspect some
people wouldn’t want to get off the ship anyway, no matter how long the cruise,
wherever they were, as Britannia itself is a pretty big star attraction in its
own right, whatever the destination.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends P&O Cruises
You might also enjoy reading• A Celebration of all that is British by Mike Pickup
• A 2 night Preview Cruise by Silver Traveller SteveW
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