Posted August 5th, 2017, 12:53 PM
OK. Having started this thread some time back, I thought that this would be the best place to post my findings now that we have just returned from the cruise and have experienced two weeks in an aft corner wrap suite (F730). I should say that we have had forward facing suites on our two previous Britannia cruises and, from reading all reviews about Britannia suites on this site, feel that we may be fairly unique in the respect that we can personally compare and contrast both types from first hand experience. I have just posted detailed feedback on why we like the forward suites on another thread as several people wanted specific questions answered, so I shall restrict this post to observations about the aft suite and, in particular, the specific concerns that we had prior to sailing, having read many contrasting reviews.
I shall take each of the concerns that we had prior to the cruise in turn;
Noise from the Live Lounge - You can certainly hear the music very clearly on F deck and it is mildly irritating, but is not as much of a problem as we had feared. Two things that we noticed. Firstly, the problem is far worse when there are 'live' performances. You can even hear which songs are being sung. Oddly, we found that the noise was loudest in two areas of the suite - by the cabin door and in the area between the living room and bedroom. When the live performances had ended, the recorded music was a low level distant noise and did not disturb our sleep. I should imagine that G deck would be quite problematic, but would suggest that E deck and above would have no issue.
Smoking area outside Live Lounge - The ships plans do not show that the smoking area extends underneath the port aft wrap balconies. I did not realise this until some time after booking and then couldn't swap. I am a passionate anti-smoker as the smell gives me headaches and I was very concerned about this. I needn't have been. It was no issue whatsoever. Surprisingly few smokers used this area and those that did tended to congregate in the seating area immediately outside the door leading out from the front of the Live Lounge. I would suggest that side balconies towards the rear of the ship on the port side may have some issues, but it was no issue for us. I once stood directly above 4 people smoking outside the side stage door (directly below the side of our balcony) and couldn't smell it. And, believe me, I can smell a cigarette from 100 yards.
Soot - The first morning, our balcony was covered in soot. It had been foul weather leaving Southampton and the soot was falling earlier due to rain. As we entered warmer climes, the problem lessened. Some days almost nothing, other days a few specks, other days more noticeable deposits. However, even the specks are a pain, as a piece of soot the size of a pinnhead will smear to an inch long mark and it's very difficult to remove. The cabin stewards hose the balcony down daily if neeed, but the taps are only on certain balconies and they have to trail the hose behind balcony dividers and are governed by what time they can get in to the 'host' cabin. This can often mean that hosing down doesn't commence until very late morning, or even mid-day, rendering the balcony pretty useless in the mornings. You need to trash a pair of P&O slippers for balcony use only as your feet get filthy and it's very easy to walk it through the cabin (I speak from experience). The soot volume does depend on weather conditions (humidity) and wind direction. On occasion, you can also smell the exhaust fumes from the funnel from the balcony. Not pleasant.
Vibration - Having been on a number of cruises, we know that ships move and vibrate (especially when the thrusters are in use), but the aft cabins experience noticeably more vibration than elsewhere. It's pretty constant when the ship is moving. Whilst this doesn't overly bother us, the constant cabin rattles that ensue and the time spent trying to locate them and muffle the offending rattle is irritating. I can imagine that the vibration may be more of an issue for some other people and could in fact be a major issue.
In summary, although some of the things we had been concerned about were, in reality, less of an issue than we had feared, we would not book an aft suite again on Britannia. We do not sunbathe and the sole 'advantage' of the huge balcony was, for us, outweighed by the negatives. We have twice had forward suites on Britannia and much prefer them. They are silent, no vibration at all, no soot and the interior accommodation is bigger. But most of all, we missed the forward facing panoramic window and watching every port approach and arrival from the comfort of our bed. I prefer to see where we are going than where we have been.
P&O Cruises Experience – 134 nights over 11 cruises (Aurora, Azura, Britannia x 3, Oceana x 2, Oriana x 2, Ventura x 2)
P&O Cruises to Come - 62 nights over 5 cruises (2017 - Aurora, 2018 - Aurora, Arcadia, Aurora, 2019 - Aurora)
674(A) Oriana 14/5/96. Southampton to Istanbul. 8 nights. Outside Cabin.
E620 Oceana 11/8/06. Mediterranean. 14 nights. Outside Cabin.
E720 Oceana 12/8/07. Canaries. 13 nights. Outside Cabin.
X912 Oriana 24/7/09. Baltic. 14 nights. Outside Cabin.
A118 Azura 5/8/11. Mediterranean. 16 nights. Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin.
N321 Ventura 18/8/13. Mediterranean. 14 nights. Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin.
B517 Britannia 15/8/15. Mediterranean. 14 nights. Suite.
B622 Britannia 23/7/16. Norwegian Fjords. 7 nights. Suite.
N703 Ventura 15/2/17. Amsterdam & Bruges. 4 nights. Penthouse Suite.
R705 Aurora 13/5/17. Baltic. 16 nights. Accessible Balcony Cabin.
B721 Britannia 22/7/17. Western Mediterranean. 14 nights. Suite.