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Ahoy

Britannias Maiden British Isles Cruise

7 posts in this topic

Seen on the internet Britannia has just finished her maiden cruise around the british isles, seems a great way to see britain, has anyone been on this cruise? or been on any other british isles cruises?

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I have never done a British Isles cruise, and it has never really appealed to me before, however, all I hear are good reports and for something a little different too - maybe it is worth a try. I think you can generally pick up really good deal's on this sort of Itinerary too.

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Have just done the round Britan cruise on Britannia, 12 nights. Please bear in mind these are my thought and what I disliked others may crave. As may be expected the weather was pretty grim but Kirkwall, Liverpool, Dublin and Guernsey were great, try and avoid tendering if possible, very hot and uncomfortable.

There is no doubt that Britannia is a beautiful ship, with lovely decor, art work theatres etc. however, for me as a passenger it was a total nightmare and an experience I will never repeat.

It is too big, 3500+ passengers with continual queuing and pushing and shoving. You can wait 20 or 25 minutes for a lift even when they are all working. They are also very small

On the whole the food was ok, but not as good as we have previously had with P&O. Can recommend Beach House ( £5 extra) and Limelight Club ( £22 extra). Peninsular restaurant very ordinary, Horizon is a motorway services and Sindhu is ok to good, although our local Indian restaurant is equally good at hall, rice etc. Sindhu is £15 extra. Try to get a booth to eat in as the lighting elsewhere is very poor.

The staff are not as good as normal which was a surprise until we met a staff member we knew from other ships who told us they were all very tired nod pretty unhappy. Also found the level of English language rather poor, also on reception.

I'm sure Britannia has more than one gear but it seemed at times that the crew must be rowing.

If you enjoy reading take your own books. The "library" is a cupboard with 6 chairs and no room to swing a cat.

Entertainment is a curates egg, awful and good. If the weather is bad ( Britain? ) and you stay aboard there is little laid on apart from shuffleboard , quoits, trivia quizzes etc. Needs more speakers, and much as I like him, I'm not paying £200 for a couple of hours cooking with James Martin. On the other hand the theatre company put on very spectacular shows with fantastic visual effects. The drawbacks were that there seemed little chemistry between performers and you needed to be in theatre 40 minutes before the show to get a decent seat and avoid the pushing and shoving.

The gym is good but the packages not so. My fault, I've been on enough P&O cruises to know these are a rip off.

Disembarkation was very good, a relief.

So, all in all, a very beautiful ship, nightmare for passengers, unhappy ship, ship with no soul. Never again. Give me back the Adonia!

wheels36 likes this

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Just back from her around the UK cruise.

 

Having reread the original post I have changed my reply.  I will repost that one elsewhere.

 

Day 3 – Edinburgh
Tender Port

 

We were tendered into Newhaven. We were met at the port by a trio of pipers and members of the local tourist board with maps etc.

 

Now, if you only want to visit Edinburgh this is a very easy DIY port. Just off the port area you can catch one of two local buses that go to Edinburgh, or you can take the free shuttle to the Ocean Terminal where Britannia ver1 is berthed. From here you can visit said ship, or just outside there is a better choice of buses, about 6 different ones, going into Edinburgh. Cost from whatever area you want to go from is £1.50pp single or £4pp all day. You just do your sums. For us the better option was the single.

 

The journey is about 15 mins and takes you into Princess Street. Then armed with your map off you go. Walked along Princess Street, climbed The Scott Monument Tower, 287 steps with various levels, Climbed up Carlton Hill for fantastic views over the city and the port area, with Britannia berthed in the distance, walked through the East and West Gardens to name but a few.

 

We took the bus back to Ocean Terminal and although there are shuttles from here we walked the short way back to Newhaven port, about 10mins.

 

Day 3 – Invergordon
Berthed Starboard side on
We had booked P&O's Leisurely Loch Ness. Coach trip out through the countryside to Loch Ness and back, a short 3 ½ hr trip. Our guide, German by the way, was very knowledgeable and gave us an excellent commentary of the places we were passing through. On reaching Loch Ness we stopped at a lake side hotel for photos. Here was a model Nessie, for the selfie and then a short walk down to the Loch to take your photos. The hotel also had a Tourist shop. From here we drove onto Beauly a small village for another stop, but except for the ruined church there is nothing here, and then back to the ship.

 

You know that feeling when something does not live up to expectations, well for both of us, and talking to others later, this was one of those occasions. Yes, the countryside is beautiful but the hotel is a tourist trap, we saw and bought cheaper stuff in Edinburgh, ie we bought a crystal Nessie for £12.99 in Edinburgh but here it was £18 for a plastic one. Then the Loch itself was a let-down, views from the road are all masked by trees, when we went down to the Loch side there was a smell and the area resembled a building site. What we had preserved about Loch Ness and the views were not what we saw. We did stop after the hotel for a photo shoot of Urquhart Castle but the distance if you did not have a telephoto lens was too far. However, we were the only bus to stop out of the 3 that where on this morning excursion. The other sad thing was we drove passed the Nessie Experience Exhibition Centre, OK it may have been touristy but it would have been fun to look at and walk around. All in all for us a 3/10.

 

Day 4 – Kirkwall
Berthed Starboard side on

Started the sail in very early and I must say sailing past all the small islands was spectacular. We had a berthed for here and on sailing into Kirkwall harbour found that Marco Polo was already there at anchor.

 

This initially was a Tender port but was changed to a berth.  On disembarking there was a free shuttle into town where we decided to join a Round the Island Bus. This cost £8.30pp and it is a complete tour of the island.

 

You drive out of Kirkwall stopping off at Scarpa Flow, onto Skara Brae & Skaill House for a hour stop, entry here is an extra £5.50pp. From here onto Ring of Brodgar, 30 mins here and then back to Kirkwall. About 3 ½ hours overall. If the weather had played its part this is an excellent and cheap option to see the island and its sites. However, in driving rain and gale force winds it is not fun. That coupled with the bus drivers on board system breaking, so no commentary, it took the pleasure out of it and made the tour silent and long.

 

Arriving back at Kirkwall the rain and wind had not let up so we caught the shuttle back to the ship and stayed on board for the afternoon.  The weather did brighten up in the afternoon.

 

Day 5 – At Sea
Another advertised highlight, sailing past Cape Wrath, the most North-Westerly point of Scotland. This actually happened at 2am, I do not think there were many out on deck to see it.

The sail down the west coast of Scotland, past Skye, Rum, Eigg and Mull is a sight to see, rugged cliff faces and the wild coast line. However, weather did not make seeing them from your balcony or the tops of Britannia’s decks a pleasure.

 

Day 6 – Greenock
Berthed Port side on
Another beautiful sail in past islands and lush countryside. So far is dry but chilly and what a welcome a full pipe band, large dancing Scotsman mascot, you know the type, you see them in the high streets dressed in overly large costumes trying to get your attention, and that was just the beginning.

 

After breakfast we left the ship to a great welcome, the large Scotsman was there to meet us along with the mayor and councillors who shook our hands and the local tourist guides who were there to assist in any way they could.

 

They really know how to make you feel welcome here. The tourist board is fantastic, it is they who laid on the pipe band, dancing large Scotsman, tourist trips, they really go out of their way to welcome you to their town and help you get the most out of your stay. So far the best welcome yet from any port of call.

 

The Ocean Terminal has a tourist centre with plenty of maps, leaflets and lots of information about the surrounding area. They will let you know bus timings to Glasgow and where to catch the bus. They will point you in the direction of the train station if you are so inclined. Also in the terminal are small stalls/shops selling local ware.

 

For further afield. A taxi to Glasgow is £40, we over heard the price and I suspect that this is a single. There are lots of taxis outside the terminal. The train takes between 45 – 55 mins depending on which one you catch. The other thing on offer is a taxi tour at £30 per hour.

 

We could have gone further afield but decided to stay in Greenock and sample its delights. Now here the local tourist group lay on free local tours, you read correctly, free tours. All they ask for is a small donation at the end of the tour. The choice you have is: Gourock Tour, Greenock Tour or Port Glasgow and Newark Castle Tour. Note that for that last tour although the tour is free, entry to the castle requires a small entry fee.

 

You need to book as you get off, only 30 passengers are on the minibus. We choose the Gourock tour. A 3 hour trip that took us around town, up to a viewing point where you have time for a photo opportunity, into Inverkip past the marina, the Cloch Lighthouse and back via the Esplanade and back to the terminal. The tour is fully guided with a very informative commentary telling you of local history and pointing out various sites and areas that you can see over the Clyde. Your guides are members of the local tourist group who are all retired and do this for the pleasure. If you do not want to go far and would like to see some of the history of the area this is for you.

 

Just outside the port gates is a stop for a HOHO bus and the main town is only a short and flat 15 mins walk away.

 

After the tour we strolled into town. Really it is just your normal town with high street shops. Throughout the town we noticed tourist signs pointing the way to various areas and the way to the terminal.

 

Sail out tonight was early. Again a pipe band, we saw the return of our dancing Scotsman, people lining the outside area with flags and all along the Esplanade locals lined the street to see us off. What a nice place to visit.

 

Day 7 - Liverpool
Berthed Starboard side on
We sailed up the Mersey was through mist and heavy rain. For us a stay on board day. Well we only live 30-40 mins away and have visited here on a few occasions.

 

It is a shame that it is heavy rain, Liverpool has a lot to offer and all within a short distance. The ship berths about 10 mins walk from the Liver Building and Cunard building, outside you will find HOHO buses ready to take you around the city. The Museum of Liverpool is just a little further followed by the Albert Dock a full 20 mins maximum away. Then if you are so inclined the main shopping area is only about 20 mins from the port. If you want to go further afield Chester, Wirral and the North Wales coast are within easy reach.

 

Late sail away with a firework display.  After the display Britannia continued around to complete a full 360o turn until we were pointing back down the Mersey and ready for our sail out.

 

Day 8 – Dublin
Berthed Starboard side on
Arrived to a misty start but soon brightened up. Just managed to get onto the balcony has two Dolphins decided to pop up, not enough time to get back into the cabin for my camera, maybe on the way out.

 

We sailed into the heart of Dublin, well as close as we could. Seemed strange reversing up into the port with all the aft cabins now facing the way we were sailing. The port itself is very industrialised but we had a welcome of Irish Dancers and Drummers. There were an abundance of taxis offering tours at the port.

 

Free shuttle to the city, about 20 mins away. Seems Dublin has decided to plan all their road works for the next 10 years for this visit, the town centre was chaos. Dropped off in Kildare Street right next to the National Gallery of Ireland. From here you have easy access to the HOHO tour buses, €17pp, Trinity College (Book of Kells), Dublin Castle and the shopping areas of O’Connell Street and Grafton Street are all within easy walking distance. Anything further, Guinness, Jameson, Dublin Zoo you will need transport of some kind, but the HOHO buses go right past all major sites. Can I also recommend a walk through St Stephens Green a beautiful park and not far from the drop off point.

 

Day 9 – Cobh
Berthed Port side on
The local tourist centre came on board with maps of Cobh and Cork along with ideas of what to do and see. So, here it all depends on what you want to do.

 

For Cork, there are plenty of taxis on the quay side to take you in. The train station is a short walk away and this takes you directly into Cork.

 

If you are staying in Cobh again there is a lot on offer. Taxis all ready to give private tours, there is a land train that takes you around the town, there are harbour tours and you can hire your own boat €49 for a family of 5 for 1 hour. If you wish to do your own thing the town is a short 15 min walk away. The walk takes you past a sea view park, shops and there are local history stories on the Queenstown Story, Lusitania and Titanic. If you wish to visit the Titanic Gardens then just be warned that it is about a mile away at the other side of town. The views from St Coleman’s Cathedral over the port area are stunning and you will see your cruise ship below.

Day 11 – Guernsey
Tender Port
After the Captain announcing the previous evening that strong winds and tide were expected in Guernsey in the morning we thought we would be unable to get in. However, seems Mother Nature liked us and everything had blown through by the time we sailed into the harbour and our berth location.

 

The sun was out and it was already quite warm at 8am. So, fed and watered we made our way to the tender for the journey ashore. This is an easy DIY although some places to get to are up quite steep hills. We were met by tourist information on stepping ashore with a map and information regarding free Wi-Fi, in the harbour and sea front area; you are given the log in details.

We had a nice stroll along the front to Castle Cornet and then onto the Lighthouse with views over the harbour and Britannia at anchor. Close to Castle Cornet is a café and the prices are very reasonable. Not sure if they always do it but they made sure my change was in UK currency. We then strolled back through town, nice shops, VAT free, but very expensive. Up St Julian’s Ave to Candie Gardens. Beautiful well-kept gardens and a lovely café at the top where we stopped and had lunch. From here along to a viewing point overlooking the bay and back down into town.

 

Overall a great way to see the UK.  We had a mixture of weather, well British Summer, but most ports, except Kirkwall, were mainly dry. The only issue I will comment on are the locations we visited, this was Britannia’s Maiden UK cruise and I felt we could have taken in more of the UK. We had 4 Scottish, 1 English, 2 Southern Ireland and of course the Channel Islands. We missed Northern Ireland and Wales as Ports of Call that would have made this a true around UK cruise. But overall we thoroughly enjoyed it and as I have said the only downside was the weather in the Orkney’s.

 

Due to Britannia's size and the tidal waters she had to berth a fair way out in both Edinburgh and Guernsey, that made the tender trips extremely long.   The other problem we encountered was in Guernsey, the tidal waters coupled with high winds and a choppy sea made tendering difficult, but the ship coped, yes a little slow, but all the passengers arrived safely back on ship.  I would expect nothing else from a good captain.

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We did a British Isles cruise last year on Celebrity Infinity and absolutely loved it. Had never been to Dublin, Belfast, Cork or Kirkwall before so it was a great opportunity to visit these places for the day.

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Have just done the round Britan cruise on Britannia, 12 nights. Please bear in mind these are my thought and what I disliked others may crave. As may be expected the weather was pretty grim but Kirkwall, Liverpool, Dublin and Guernsey were great, try and avoid tendering if possible, very hot and uncomfortable.

There is no doubt that Britannia is a beautiful ship, with lovely decor, art work theatres etc. however, for me as a passenger it was a total nightmare and an experience I will never repeat.

It is too big, 3500+ passengers with continual queuing and pushing and shoving. You can wait 20 or 25 minutes for a lift even when they are all working. They are also very small

On the whole the food was ok, but not as good as we have previously had with P&O. Can recommend Beach House ( £5 extra) and Limelight Club ( £22 extra). Peninsular restaurant very ordinary, Horizon is a motorway services and Sindhu is ok to good, although our local Indian restaurant is equally good at hall, rice etc. Sindhu is £15 extra. Try to get a booth to eat in as the lighting elsewhere is very poor.

The staff are not as good as normal which was a surprise until we met a staff member we knew from other ships who told us they were all very tired nod pretty unhappy. Also found the level of English language rather poor, also on reception.

I'm sure Britannia has more than one gear but it seemed at times that the crew must be rowing.

If you enjoy reading take your own books. The "library" is a cupboard with 6 chairs and no room to swing a cat.

Entertainment is a curates egg, awful and good. If the weather is bad ( Britain? ) and you stay aboard there is little laid on apart from shuffleboard , quoits, trivia quizzes etc. Needs more speakers, and much as I like him, I'm not paying £200 for a couple of hours cooking with James Martin. On the other hand the theatre company put on very spectacular shows with fantastic visual effects. The drawbacks were that there seemed little chemistry between performers and you needed to be in theatre 40 minutes before the show to get a decent seat and avoid the pushing and shoving.

The gym is good but the packages not so. My fault, I've been on enough P&O cruises to know these are a rip off.

Disembarkation was very good, a relief.

So, all in all, a very beautiful ship, nightmare for passengers, unhappy ship, ship with no soul. Never again. Give me back the Adonia!

This is a very interesting review that touches on the "cruise lines" market direction.

I too noticed library size and thought it was strange that the library on Azura was smaller than that on Oriana, despite being a larger ship. These decisions are not made ad-hoc, and much consideration will have been given to the space allocated. The question probably is whether the libraries are being reduced because of under-use or whether the cruise line is directing resources away from "non-revenue generating areas".

If someone is relaxing on a ship then they are not generating additional revenue (though you could argue that the bar's are an exception).

In contrast the "cookery club" appears, and the management discussions around this at the design stages must have been amusing (i.e. "people wanting to cook on holiday"), but add celebrity and "hey-ho" we are generating more revenue.

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