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Jo and Rob

Britannia review with photographs

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Britannia B503 – Canaries and Morocco

 

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Gran Canaria is a great port to get a good photograph of the ship

 

 

 

We booked our 14 night cruise over a year before sailing and were really looking forward to our first ever stern facing cabin. You can imagine our shock and disappointment to receive a phone call from P&O three days before sailing to inform us that the deck plans were inaccurate and our booked cabin was not a four berth after all! They moved us to the last remaining four berth cabin on the ship which was starboard side on the deck below which was the “same grade” cabin but not the location we had chosen and no doubt more families of four will be receiving similar phone calls if they have also booked E739.

 

 

Embarkation was delayed during the first hour as they had to move the gangway due the ship moving but after 30 minutes waiting, boarding started once more. After dropping off our bags in our cabin we headed straight for the buffet which included a variety of hot and cold food. There was ample seating and we sat and watched passengers board as we tucked into curry and poppadums.

 

 

The cabin was well designed. There were four UK plug sockets and an American socket for the hairdryer. Tea and coffee making facilities were provided and biscuits were replenished daily. The wardrobe was huge and as always we asked for extra hangers which were promptly delivered. As well as the five shelves next to the wardrobe there were also two deep drawers in both bedside cabinets. The fridge contained the four complementary bottles of water and was large enough for our 3 litre box of wine which we brought on board. The shower in the bathroom was larger than normal and had a retractable line for swimming costumes if needed. Complementary shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and shower gel were provided. Blue towels were provided for the pool or beach and white towels and flannels were for cabin use.

 

 

Our cabin steward Rocky was superb. He had a great system for converting our cabin into a four berth and back again which worked like clockwork. We just had to press the housekeeping button on the telephone as soon as we left the cabin for breakfast or dinner which paged him so the children’s beds were tidied away or set up by the time we came back. Our cases easily fitted under the queen size bed. The television was wall mounted and of stunning quality. There was a good selection of films and television programmes as well as live news channels, information about shore excursions and the navigational map. The television did not however have information about our on board account or our photographs from the cruise. Our glass fronted balcony was the smallest we have ever had but there was still enough room for two reclining chairs, a foot stool and a table. The balcony light was operated from inside the cabin.

 

The food on board was excellent. Unlike other cruise lines the Peninsular dining room was open every day for lunch whether at sea or in port and similarly afternoon tea was served daily in the Oriental restaurant. The menu changed daily and in the evening the left side of the menu was always available, except formal nights, and the right side menu was divided into starters, soups, mains and desserts. The cheeseboard changed every day and Stilton was also available on request. The buffet was divided into three sections which opened at different times enabling food to stay fresher. The Grab and Go counter outside was a hit with freshly made rolls, salads and desserts. There was also freshly made pizza and the Grill had pre-wrapped cheeseburgers, hotdogs and barbecued chicken similar to the Grab and Go idea. The children had room service a couple of times which was delivered swiftly and complementary.

 

 

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Petits Fours in Epicurian served with coffee

 

 

Both Sindhu and the Epicurian specialty restaurants were excellent and worth the additional cover charge. I particularly enjoyed the Epicurian which was a multi-sensory experience. We also enjoyed cooking fillet steak on a lava rock at the Beach House, located on the starboard side of the buffet in the evening.

 

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Main course in Sindhu is served with additional side dishes

 

 

The Cookery School was a superb innovative feature of the ship. I did a Masterclass with multiple Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw and had a great time cookery alongside such a talented and acclaimed chef before sitting down with him to eat what we had cooked. The children also did a Pizza making session with Lizzie and Rob the two resident chefs and also had a great time.

 

 

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Nathan Outlaw giving one to one advice at Cookery School

 

 

The ship had some serious design faults which were largely due to the fact that despite building a larger ship with greater passenger capacity there was no forward planning to the larger public spaces that would be needed. The theatre was painfully small and full twenty minutes before the performance. Indeed we saw passengers queuing 45 minutes before a performance to guarantee a seat! Having enjoyed the huge theatres on larger ships on other cruise lines this was one area that was severely lacking. Indeed perhaps if they hadn’t sacrificed such a huge amount of space on deck 5 to the Oasis Spa the theatre could have been tiered and nearly doubled in capacity. The spa was expensive but there were daily specials so I imagine that anyone who had pre-booked a treatment on-line would feel pretty cheated. The thermal suite complete with hydrotherapy pool was located within the spa on deck 5. The Retreat on deck 16 was run by the spa and was an adult only exclusive area, which included two Jacuzzis and food. Having taken a look at the Retreat it wasn’t anything particularly special, and not half as nice as the Retreat on Azura. I think that the Serenity pool and bar, also on deck 16, is preferable as it is also an adult only quiet zone, but it is complementary and has everything that you would need.

 

 

There were four lifts forward, four lifts aft and six lifts mid-ship. At all times there were some lifts out of order which was made even worse by their small size and the fact that there were no stairs mid-ship above deck 7. Who in their right minds would design a ship that does not have stairs located next to the lifts? I do hope that P&O will listen and open up the mid-ship stairs to passengers very soon as this is a serious problem for passengers trying to move around the ship.

 

Britannia had two pools mid-ship, and adult only pool forward and a pool so small it looked like a plunge pool aft. There were only two Jacuzzis that were complementary which were situated on deck 17 so if you wanted to go from the pool to the Jacuzzi you had to take a walk up the stairs first which is not what you want if it is a bit nippy!

 

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Lido deck 16

 

 

 

The Studio on deck 5 was the ship cinema, which was also the location for some talks and performances. Unfortunately once again the designers failed miserably as the seats are not graduated enough so unless you are lucky enough to be sitting on the front row the screen was mostly obscured.

 

 

The photography department no longer prints out all the photographs, which we thought was a positive as it was such a waste of paper and ink. However, you still have to wade past everyone else’s pictures on the computer screens in search of your own. Why don’t they use face recognition or scan your cruise card so you could just see your own photographs? We expected a brand new ship to have up to date technology but this not the case. The photographers also lacked imagination and props. Who is going to buy a picture of the side of the ship without a clue of the location?

 

 

The Live Lounge was an entertainment venue at the back of the ship and again lacked seating. We stood and watched a comedian one night as did a third of the lounge due to inadequate seating. The same problem occurred in every public area including the Crows Nest during the day on sea days and every evening.

 

 

Java on deck 7 was the location for coffee and cake (but you could only have cake if you bought coffee). Bizarrely this closed at 7pm and as it was such a prime location mid-ship it looked wrong being closed in the evening. We would have happily sat and had a coffee there in the evening if it was open and this is one area that P&O should move on swiftly extending the opening hour to 11pm.

 

 

Market Café on deck 5 seemed to fail completely. I hardly saw anyone sitting there at all. It was the venue for Eric Lanyard’s pâtisserie, and you can also buy cheese or a plate of cold meat. It is also the venue for specialty ice-cream, teas and coffees. I think if they made the seating more comfortable it would help as the food is all at a price the venue does not deliver in appeal.

 

 

Scubas Kids club was another disappointment with the new signing policy. Although our son is 12, and catches a bus on his own to school and has previously signed in and out of club on P&O he now has to be signed in and out by an adult. It is safeguarding gone mad! Bearing in mind the Kids club is deck 17 aft and the theatre is deck 6 forward it makes it nigh impossible to get back in time to get a seat in the theatre.

 

 

Entertainment during the day lacked imagination, was repetitive and I was completely underwhelmed by the Cruise Director who appeared to do very little. On previous cruises the Cruise Directors have been really impressive but Neil Oliver just seemed lazy, not even giving a witty comment in the theatre before introducing the act. He was on and off within 1 minute and we wondered what he actually did to earn the top entertainer’s salary.

 

 

We enjoyed the acts we saw in the theatre (when we could get a seat) and were impressed with the talent of Britannia’s singers and dancers. Similarly the ipad talk and line dancing I attended were both good and more variety particularly on the sea days would have been welcome. We really enjoyed our cruise and really wanted to love the ship. Despite the huge glass stalactite suspended from the ceiling in the Atrium, Britannia did not have the Wow factor that everyone expected.

 

 

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The Atrium

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Disappointing and a little worrying about the theatre.

 

I am used to wondering up after 6.30pm dinner in the MDR and easily getting a seat for the 8.30pm performance. I guess we are likely to now encounter problems, and probably see people running from one end of the ship to the other with no doubt an increase in accidents as a result. :rolleyes:

 

It really does seem P&O have sought to cram in as many cabins as possible at the expense of giving passengers enough space on board to actually relax and enjoy themselves.

 

The cabins look tiny too.

Edited by PurpleMoonlight

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Funnily enough our cabin was not tiny and larger than some other four berth cabins we have had. We did think that 6.30pm dining was cutting it fine for the first theatre performance. We ate at the Beach House on the last night and were really surprised that it didn't open until 6.30pm as it would have been easy to open at 6pm and by 6.30pm there was quite of queue of passengers waiting.

 

Here is a video of our cabin if you didn't catch it on the separate thread.

 

[YOUTUBE]NXfD1aVoCwo[/YOUTUBE]

Edited by Jo and Rob

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It seems everything on board involves a queue.

 

:(

 

We often walked through the buffet to get to the aft lifts and I never saw a queue there so don't panic. I think that like us others thought that the Beach House opened at 6pm which caused the queue. There was ample seating in the Beach House so as long as you arrive after it has opened there will be no queue.

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Thanks very much for the review Jo. Not an itinerary that suits me next year so I still can't see me going on her anytime soon!

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Thanks for the review Jo. Seems we have some pretty similar views on the cruise we shared.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Reading your review and thinking over our views after posting my review I think there is a theme here with regard to this ship. Chargeable venues ( Oasis Spa, The Limelight Club, Epicurean, the Market Cafe and particularly Sindhu) are large and spacious whereas free venues that should be larger ( The Live Lounge, The Theatre, The Crows Nest, Glass House) are too small for the capacity of the ship. Sindhu is a vast area and although its a lovely venue and has great food does it really need to be so large? The Glass House is about half the size of its lovely Azura counterpart.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I would agree with you about the CD. We had him on Azura and I was underwhelmed as well, although others rave about him.

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We went to the theatre at 7-30 when there was a show on and if not 10-30 and there was never any queues and never had a problem getting a seat whether it be the dance company or an entertainer. I think the only problem is 8-30 show where there are those that have first sitting so miss 7-30 show and those that can go to differing times but cannot get out of the idea that it is "tradition" to go to 8-30 and will not go to 10-30 show.

Edited by majortom10

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Reading your review and thinking over our views after posting my review I think there is a theme here with regard to this ship. Chargeable venues ( Oasis Spa, The Limelight Club, Epicurean, the Market Cafe and particularly Sindhu) are large and spacious whereas free venues that should be larger ( The Live Lounge, The Theatre, The Crows Nest, Glass House) are too small for the capacity of the ship. Sindhu is a vast area and although its a lovely venue and has great food does it really need to be so large? The Glass House is about half the size of its lovely Azura counterpart.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

Yes you are right Sindhu is huge. Here are some more photographs that we took of the venue and food.

 

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Poppadoms and chutneys

 

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My starter was scallops with textures of parsnip and was delicious

 

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We sat in one of the side bays

 

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Rob took these photographs during our meal and as you can see it was very quiet initially.

 

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My dessert was also rather delicious!

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Reading your review and thinking over our views after posting my review I think there is a theme here with regard to this ship. Chargeable venues ( Oasis Spa, The Limelight Club, Epicurean, the Market Cafe and particularly Sindhu) are large and spacious whereas free venues that should be larger ( The Live Lounge, The Theatre, The Crows Nest, Glass House) are too small for the capacity of the ship. Sindhu is a vast area and although its a lovely venue and has great food does it really need to be so large? The Glass House is about half the size of its lovely Azura counterpart.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

I will reserve final judgement until i try her in May but there does seem to be themes developing. i might put it, this is a bigger ship but where has the space gone?

 

looks like she was designed by accountants, who, apparently know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Maximise revenue earning space and minimise, or eliminate altogether (prom deck) anything which does not earn the minimum requred.

 

I loved the Glasshouse on Ventura, so on this bigger ship they make it smaller :confused:

 

I loved the Crows Nest on Arcadia, so on this bigger ship they make it smaller :confused:

 

I spend many hours on promenade decks, I like the connection with the sea, this ship has no promenade deck.

 

Who knows, i might love her ;)

 

at least P&O have plenty of other ships to chose from and there are other cruise lines out there

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Thanks for the great review. I'm travelling with children aged 6, 14 and 16. Would you mind giving me a bit of information on the kids club. We've been on Azura and Ventura so I'm thinking it will be largely the same arrangements.

 

I thought the kids pizza cooking session sounded good - is there any age restrictions and what was the cost?

 

I think my older kids would like to experience the Epicurean restaurant. They're very mature and well behaved. Would they be out of place at this restaurant?

 

Finally, I saw that there was a teen pool at the back and thought that might mean that part of the ship was restricted to teens but it doesn't seem to be.

 

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

Michelle

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Great review, interesting to hear your thoughts on each venue within the ship, and some nice photos.

Almost sounds as if there's too many smaller venues, and not enough real large venues for if there's an act everyone wants to see.

Also, a shame about Java as it is - I know that we liked to use the Java equivalent on the other ships in the evening for a late night drink.

 

I've always liked the food in Sindhu, but it looks as though they've seriously upped their game again on Britannia - the presentation looks great!

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Thanks for the great review. I'm travelling with children aged 6, 14 and 16. Would you mind giving me a bit of information on the kids club. We've been on Azura and Ventura so I'm thinking it will be largely the same arrangements.

 

I thought the kids pizza cooking session sounded good - is there any age restrictions and what was the cost?

 

I think my older kids would like to experience the Epicurean restaurant. They're very mature and well behaved. Would they be out of place at this restaurant?

 

Finally, I saw that there was a teen pool at the back and thought that might mean that part of the ship was restricted to teens but it doesn't seem to be.

 

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

Michelle

 

There were over 400 children on our ship as it was during the Easter holidays. Most of the Reef staff are seasonal and teachers. As a teacher myself I didn't believe it at first and asked the staff in scubas (9-12) if any were teachers. Adam who is in charge of that room left teaching and is onboard full time but some are supply teachers or PE teachers so not the heavy work load of regular teachers.

 

The pizza session was arranged through club but oversubscribed so get names down early and was free. We were luckily DIY that day as it was a port day in the morning so we just went off in the afternoon instead. There is also a family session which costs £45 per adult (not sure if max is 2 children per adult so worth asking) again that was a port morning.

 

We saw children in Sindhu but not in the Epicurian however as long as you don't mind paying the cover charge I'm sure there wouldn't be a problem. The club started at 10am and you had to sign in your children under 13 which was a pain but won't affect you as your 6 year old is too young for self signing anyway and I think that room starts at 9am. All rooms are closed 1pm-2pm and 5pm-6pm closing at midnight.

 

Here are some photographs from the Epicurian

 

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Bloody Mary iced lollipop amuse-bouche

 

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Oysters and prawn starter and yes I think it is intended to be that shape as one wall is covered in golden sperm while another is covered in cracked egg shells.

 

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Smoked duck pate, the smoke billowed out as the cloche was removed.

 

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Dover sole which can be served off the bone if desired.

 

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A very tasty steak

 

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Crème brûlée served with chocolate bomb with freeze dried raspberries and popcorn!

 

The "pool" at the back of the ship was so tiny I think that is why the captain said it was a teen pool. The deck above (deck 18) is the mini-promenade deck which overlooks the teen area. Deck 16 aft is open to all so even if deck 17 is restricted it wouldn't be a problem.

Edited by Jo and Rob

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Reading your review and thinking over our views after posting my review I think there is a theme here with regard to this ship. Chargeable venues ( Oasis Spa, The Limelight Club, Epicurean, the Market Cafe and particularly Sindhu) are large and spacious whereas free venues that should be larger ( The Live Lounge, The Theatre, The Crows Nest, Glass House) are too small for the capacity of the ship. Sindhu is a vast area and although its a lovely venue and has great food does it really need to be so large? The Glass House is about half the size of its lovely Azura counterpart.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

Judging by our visit to Sindhu it really does need to be that large. We had booked before we went on the cruise and I was glad that we had pre-booked because the evening that we chose to go it was full. During the cruise we met a number of people who were moaning that they wanted to go to Sindhu but hadn't been able to get in.

 

I would have preferred the Glass House to have been bigger, it is our favourite place on Azura to stop for a drink in the evening but we never managed to get in on Britannia in the evening though we did enjoy a lunch there on one of the port days.

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Entertainment during the day lacked imagination, was repetitive and I was completely underwhelmed by the Cruise Director who appeared to do very little. On previous cruises the Cruise Directors have been really impressive but Neil Oliver just seemed lazy, not even giving a witty comment in the theatre before introducing the act. He was on and off within 1 minute and we wondered what he actually did to earn the top entertainer’s salary.

 

Fantastic review, Jo, thank you. Eight months until we're on Britannia and we're all getting really excited.

Must say I'm surprised by your comments about Neil Oliver, though. He was the CD on our 2013 Azura cruise and he was great. From what we saw he seemed very, very hard working, was a great compere, warm and witty, when he introduced acts in the theatre and lounges, and led his team from the front, especially on the sailaways. Maybe he was having a few off days? :(

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A good review, thanks.

 

But criticism of Neil Oliver? burn the heretic :)

 

I admit I was surprised myself having read the hype. The Great British Sailaway was the only glimmer of what people were saying but having been really entertained on Celebrity and Princess with animated Cruise Directors he didn't come close. As Groovechick suggests maybe is was having an off couple of weeks.

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Thank you for very interesting review. You had a wonderful cruise.

We have booked B507 and B508 in May. We have one question:

The fridge contained the four complementary bottles of water and was large enough for our 3 litre box of wine which we brought on board.

How to bring the wine on board: in hold items or in luggage?

Alexander and Galina

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Thank you for very interesting review. You had a wonderful cruise.

We have booked B507 and B508 in May. We have one question:

 

How to bring the wine on board: in hold items or in luggage?

Alexander and Galina

 

There is no restriction so it isn't a case of hiding it. We brought on wine boxes in a rucksack and checked it in with the cases. No point lugging that weight around when you don't have to.

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You can just carry your wine or champagne onboard with you in hand luggage :) no questions will be asked of you - ENJOY

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But criticism of Neil Oliver? burn the heretic :)

 

Jo I was also on this cruise & have to 100% agree with you on the sea day entertainment.If you do not like bingo or a quiz (we I don't) then you need to walk & eat alot !

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Thank you for your review, pics & video!

 

The food looks excellent, so glad we have already booked Sindhu! The scallop starter looks particularly scrummy! :)

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Thank you for your review, pics & video!

 

The food looks excellent, so glad we have already booked Sindhu! The scallop starter looks particularly scrummy! :)

 

You won't be disappointed. The specialty restaurants were definitely worth their cover charge. It was clear that that they were using really good quality ingrediants.

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