Britannia

Star Travel Rating

5/5

Review type

Cruise

Location

Date of travel

September, 2021

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Wife

Reasons for trip

Special occasion

From when we first booked (Feb 2020) to when we actually went (Sept 2021), much happened to stymy our maiden cruise. Covid, cancellations etc., seemed to conspire to prevent it; we even missed our Golden Wedding (May 2021) that was the original inspiration to go. The last couple of months leading up to sailing were a nightmare of triple checking and expecting another cancellation.

Embarkation day arrived and waiting at Woodhall services an hour early for the coach, we had two false starts revealing the number of Southampton bound passengers there were.

The journey was comfortable and uneventful until we reached services about half an hour from Southampton. We were told we would have to hold there until the terminal called us in. This started the most frustrating part of the entire experience, courtesy of our old friend Covid. After the hold, we made our way to the terminal and there she was, Britannia! Overwhelming excitement morphed into frustration as we queued on and off the coach for Covid testing; the final wait for results in the departure lounge was torture, as we were among the last dozen to be cleared. We embarked at 17:47 for a 16:00 planned sail away.

A quick trip to the cabin and then up to the Crow’s Nest to view Southampton from the sea as we left. We were hot, sweaty, frustrated and fed up with enduring masks (respect to those who have to). 10 minutes later, masks off and wallowing in a gin and tonic, we relaxed and took in the beautifully appointed Crow’s Nest with spectacular 180 degree views. We were to find that this was the “norm” on Britannia, like the best hotel you can imagine with staff that are the same time professional and friendly.

The cabin was a very pleasing surprise, more roomy than we expected with a huge bed; big walk-in wardrobe and a shower that was almost as big as ours at home. The icing on the cake was the balcony. It had two loungers and a table, again, better than expected.

She is a big ship and we took most of the next day exploring. The pool and outdoor lounge areas are vast and catered for sun worshippers, shade lovers and music/entertainment aficionados alike. You are never far from a bar or a cafe and there are enough staff that a raised eyebrow was all it took to get a refill. The choice of bars is large from the sumptuous Crow’s Nest, akin to a luxury hotel lounge to Brodies, instant traditional pub. The prices of drinks was astonishingly low, less than most hotels.
The restaurants were superb and suited every food taste and preferred surroundings. A detailed description of the eateries would take a small book as we tried them all, so here is a quick summery.

The Horizon is akin to the best buffet you can imagine on steroids, a vast choice of hot and cold in relaxed and informal surroundings. You could easily eat well here for the entire voyage.

The Meridien is a large restaurant, much as you would expect in a large, quality hotel. The P&O breakfast is their version of the full English, delicious. The evening menu changes daily but retains a few staple dishes like soup and steak for those less adventurous; for those who are, the likes of pheasant are served. Both of these are included in the cruise price.

The Limelight Club is as attractive as it sounds. A dinner and entertainment venue as portrayed in innumerable films. Good entertainment, intimate surroundings and great food; Poullet Bresse was excellent.

Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea is an experience not to be missed. This is as different from a standard tea as the Savoy is to a greasy spoon. Requires a large appetite and is quality personified. Even with Champagne, it is not expensive.

The Glass House, designed with Olly Smith, specialises in small plates and a vast selection of quality wines to try. Tickles all palates.

The Beach House is an unashamed grill featuring ribs and burgers etc of the best quality. We had suckling leg of lamb for the first time.

We are not lovers of heavily spiced food, so approached Sindhu with reservations; we needn’t have worried. The wonderful servers took us through the menu and selected dishes that were fragrant rather than fiery, bland they were not. Throughout the meal, samples of curries and flatbreads were brought to the table to showcase styles of food available.

The Epicurian, The Epicurian, so good they named it twice; or at least we did. How do you describe it? Imagine everything you would expect from a Michelin-star restaurant but take away the stiffness and pomposity. You’re left with a food adventure. Superb food served with theatre. Snow crab, Dover sole and Lobster were among things we ate. We went twice, it was so good.

Something and somewhere for everybody to enjoy eating. As it is very personal palate to everyone, I only make one recommendation. Unless you really hate the idea, opt for sharing tables. I promise that there are some extremely friendly people who are as nervous as you.

One last stab from Covid, because I thought the Wi-Fi package was too expensive, we, and lots of other passengers were struggling two days out to complete the passenger contact form. No problem for P&O. They designated an area and had young, IT experts sort us out. They did not even patronise us.

Biggest disappointment? No entry to Italy so missed Rome, Pisa and Florence. This did not spoil the cruise. P&O arranged alternative excursions to lessen the blow. Cruise companies cannot control epidemics or Governments policies, everything else they did superbly.

Would we go again? Absolutely, subject to our budget. Couple of extra bouquets.

Maddison and Bolsover Cruise Club were our rocks from choosing and booking through the bad times of the epidemic; simply the best. Staysure changed the date on our single trip policy with no fuss. Insurance is horrendous for us oldies, but good service eases the pain.

We thought that cruising had passed us by, but we loved it. We may have missed our anniversary, but we were still in our Golden Year.

Thank you, Britannia, thank you Bolsover.

William

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.