We interrupt your usual blog broadcast to bring you live, breaking news! It has come to our attention that a battle has broken out in Southampton between Great Britain and The United States of America. Thus far we have seen ships being positioned into place to commence, what we believe will be a significant fight. The battle is certain to last the test of time and will not be a short, swift affair. Britain and the US seem determined to face off against each other, however, for once rather than watching the news in fear or sadness, we can simply sit back, relax, enjoy and let battle commence!!
The battle of which we speak will not consist of torpedoes, cannon balls or any other destructive artillery for that matter, oh no, this battle will be won by dining, celebrity chefs, dodgems, skydiving simulators or even extravagant entertainment venues…this my fellow cruise enthusiasts…(cue drum roll) is the battle of P&O and Royal Caribbean!
Both P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have unveiled plans for new ships to be based in Southampton in 2015. Bookings for these two vessels are already underway and the two ships will go head to head. Two fantastic new cruise ships, the vessels combined will have the capacity to accommodate approximately 8,000 guests between them and will fight for the larger share of the estimated 1.7 million British passengers expected to cruise from the UK this year.
In the left corner…P&O Cruises’ Britannia
Boasting a brand new livery design in the form of the Union Jack and patriotically entitled Britannia, P&O Cruises’ new ship is certain to be a wonderful addition to Southampton. The launch of a new ship is always exciting, you only have to look at Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess last year, christened by The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. The spectacle was superb but P&O Cruises are sure to top even this. Any new ship arrival is exciting but a new ship built purposely and solely with British passengers in mind, is even more exciting. The new livery design will glisten her itineraries with a shining light and proud message that this ship is British and proud. P&O Cruises are also going all out by changing their funnel design in time for Britannia to boast a new rising sun motif, paying tribute to their Oriental heritage.
We have seen the first wave of imagery for what passengers can expect to find on board and it looks truly outstanding. Bolsover Cruise Club Marketing Executive, Katie Anderson was in Trieste, Italy for the keel laying ceremony for Britannia last year and followed up that visit this February to witness her float out take place. The excitement and anticipation for Britannia is certainly building and with itineraries set to go on sale from 26 March 2014, we are ready for her arrival.
On board facilities look exceptionally good and we would expect nothing less from
Britain’s most loved cruise line. The operator has gone all out to proudly boast the fantastic features on board, most notably, the announcement of the five ‘Food Heroes’. P&O Cruises has announced that five celebrity personalities will have a significant presence on board to take dining to the next level. Master Pâtissier, Eric Lanlard will bring his expertise to the Market Café at the heart of the ship in the Atrium as well as overseeing Britannia’s afternoon tea experience. Twice Michelin starred Chef Atul Kochhar draws inspiration from his native India and brings his culinary wisdom to the P&O Cruises fleet once more with the biggest and grandest Sindhu restaurant to date. Already successful with venues on board Ventura and Azura, Kochhar’s beautiful dining room is certain to be a major attraction on board. Enthusiastic, award winning wine expert and self-proclaimed foodie, Olly Smith will bring his sommelier knowledge to Britannia with The Glasshouse, whilst Marco Pierre White will revolutionise Gala Evenings on board. James Martin is another new addition, much like Lanlard and will not only provide a series of demonstrations and menu selections but also boast a cookery school on board. Passengers will have the opportunity to learn with the very best on board Britannia.
So what’s on board? Plenty! Britannia will boast a wide range of new entertainment venues along with some classic P&O traditions. The Crow’s Nest will be re-introduced on board Britannia, having not been included aboard Ventura or Azura. The Crow’s Nest is a hugely popular venue with loyal P&O cruisers and is sure to offer a stunning location during both day and night. The on board theatre will be the biggest in the fleet by far. The Theatre has always been synonymous with P&O Cruises. Prior to Britannia, all members in the fleet have always boasted beautiful theatre designs but the newest member of the fleet is set to take things to a whole new level. Britannia will raise the curtain on the digital era for P&O Cruises, she will also be the first to receive LED backdrop technology providing new dynamics to all P&O’s Headliner Entertainment Company shows and of course, the slickest of production values. Guests will even have their own opportunity to strut their stuff at the elegant Crystal Room. Another new venue for P&O Cruises, this gorgeous location on board is sure to be popular with its rich wood dance floors and shimmering chandeliers all set amongst a backdrop of dance memorabilia.
For the first time in the cruise lines history, P&O Cruises decided against employing different interior designers to create concepts for different areas on board, which in the cruising world is usually the norm. Instead P&O Cruises chose British Design Company, Richmond. Richmond have overseen all aspects of the ships interior design and created a collection of phenomenal elements sure to make an instant impression when passengers arrive. Richmond were brought into create and portray the perfect reflection of P&O’s 175 year history, whilst adding modern design influences and touches to welcome the new era for British cruise passengers.
In the right corner….Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas
If P&O Cruises Britannia is to be considered traditional, quintessential British and elegant, Anthem of the Seas counters with unique, charismatic and sensational innovation. Royal Caribbean have left no stone un-turned with this new ship and are certain to make a huge impact on the British public. Sales figures since her release have been truly outstanding, by far the best the cruise line have seen since making the move to sail from the UK. Independence of the Seas has always been a popular ship in Southampton for many years now but the line felt it was time for a change and strategically planned this to perfection to go head to head with P&O’s Britannia by bringing in Anthem of the Seas to take Independence of the Seas place. Anthem boasts a fantastic choice of itineraries but it’s the innovation, style and exuberant charm that she brings to the seas that is sure to create the biggest wow factors.
The innovation and design elements of Anthem of the Seas are the ships strongest points. These are the factors that will make the difference. P&O Cruises’ Britannia is certainly a family ship but she also offers grace and glamour for the adults. Anthem of the Seas does this too but in a more subtle way, she is definitely the “fun” ship of the two. Anthem will offer passengers multiple firsts at sea. Guests will have the chance to experience a skydiving simulator at sea, offering incredible views over the aft of the ship. RipCord by iFly will let guests experience the amazing thrill and exhilaration of flying whilst keeping you afloat and safe in a perfectly controlled environment. No stress of jumping out of plane, just relax, enjoy the experience, soak up the views and afterwards, head back to your sun lounger, put your feet up, enjoy the sunshine and grab a cocktail, sound good? We think so to. We’re only just scratching the surface! North Star is next and this unbelievable creation is a must when on board this ship. Royal Caribbean International have always been one for taking the passenger experience to new heights but this time they’ve done it literally and figuratively with the unveiling of North Star. One of the most anticipated features ever to be on board a cruise ship, this magnificent opportunity is a jewel shaped capsule located at the peak of the ship that will gently ascend over 300 feet above sea level to offer guests unique and breathtaking views of the ocean, ship and the destinations of the cruise.
SeaPlex continues the trend of exciting innovation and will be the largest indoor active space at sea to date. Here Royal Caribbean have actually created a
bumper car rink (for us British – dodgems). Plus there’s more. Here you’ll also find a roller skating rink, basketball court, table tennis tables, circus school and the first ever food truck cat sea to provide tasty snacks if you’re feeling a little peckish. By night this venue transforms into a dance floor with an incredible floating DJ box.
Two70 will also be an amazing venue on board both during the day and the night. In the daytime, this beautiful venue will offer 270° ocean views whilst at night the windows will spectacularly transform into hi-tech digital projections screens providing astonishing backdrops to extraordinary performance art. This is also the location where you’ll find a stylish ice bar on board and expert miologists, ready and waiting to mix up the perfect cocktail for you.
The two ships are very equally matched when it comes to cabin choices. Britannia offers the usual P&O Cruises grades including inside, ocean view and balcony staterooms before going up to the suite options. Anthem of the Seas is very much the same but does offer interconnecting cabin choices and perhaps a few more options for families. Britannia, however, counters by catering for single passengers better than ever before. Single inside, ocean view and balcony staterooms will be on offer to ensure solo travellers do not have to pay over the odds; a clever and vital addition by P&O Cruises.
So to the suites and here is where the differences are more apparent. P&O Cruise’s partnership with Richmond went down the line of opulence, luxury, relaxation and rejuvenation in a glamorous format. They produced a collection of wonderful suite accommodations accompanied by exclusive butler service and stunning separate living quarters with generous spaces. The choices of suites and deluxe balcony cabins however on Britannia are very straightforward. This appears to have been done purposely, in order to give passengers clear and concise choices. Royal Caribbean however went down an alternative route. They are renowned for producing a wide range of accommodation options on board to tick most boxes and with Anthem, they have done it again. There are numerous suite choices from Junior Suites and Family Suites to the most spectacular of them all, the Royal Loft Suite. These are two story accommodations and just exude luxury around every corner. Loft Suites feature a separate dining area for in suite dining, a dedicated concierge service, more space and pampering than ever before plus your own private whirlpool.
Royal Caribbean also had another trick of their sleeves with inside accommodation. Often a wory for first time cruisers due to the perception of feeling a little claustrophobic, the cruise line countered this fear with a brilliant innovation. Inside cabins are excellent value for money, superb accommodation and should not be feared at all, after all, how much time do you even spend in your cabin anyway when the sun is shining outside?? If it does worry you though, consider a virtual balcony on Anthem of the Seas, that’s right a virtual balcony, you didn’t read it wrong or blink at the wrong time, we did say virtual balconies. Virtual balcony cabins are still inside cabins but they have a full length screen that projects real time footage of the ocean and the destinations you will pass along your way directly into your cabin via and LED screen. You can watch the sunrise or sunset as if you were actually outside.
Royal Caribbean however have not included, as of yet, single staterooms on board and this is something we feel P&O Cruises have considered very well.
What the hierarchy are saying?
P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: ‘We pride ourselves on delivering authentic, lingering happy memories which stem from exemplary service, attention to detail, and shared experiences both on shore and on the ship with family and friends. Every detail on Britannia, from linens to art, from the wines from around the globe to the provenance of our ingredients, is chosen with care.’
Royal Caribbean is taking a different approach. Its managing director in Britain and Ireland, Stuart Leven said: ‘We are constantly pushing the boundaries and creating unrivalled holiday experiences on board the world’s most advanced and activity packed ships. With Quantum and Anthem of the Seas, we’re confident we’re taking things to a whole new level in terms of ground-breaking features. With every new ship we aim to create holidays that appeal to kids and parents alike.’
Comparing the two ships could go on for days, even weeks but one thing is for certain, they will definitely light up Southampton in 2015. Who will come out on top? Nobody knows, only time will tell but to help you make your decision, below are two links to all the information you need about both ships and what they can offer you personally.
Click here to read all about what Anthem of the Seas can offer you.