Robert needham | November 1, 2021 | P&O Cruises | Britannia
The cruise was pretty good despite the covid restrictions. Embarkation was fairly quick. On drop off we had to go to a test site adjacent to the terminal. I had to show my health forms an jab certificate and after about a 10 min queue I was tested. We then made out way into the terminal and had to wait 30 mins for the test results to be texted to you before proceeding to check-in. I was on board by 2:00. They have done away with the safety brief. Instead, as soon as you get on the ship you are directed to your muster station where someone scans your card and points out this is your muster station. You are then free. The safety brief is via video in your cabin.
I have not been on Britannia before and the verdict is out. She seemed very ‘bitty’ with her lounges and the ship didn’t seem to flow. Some lounges, like the Glass House did not have that cosy feel. They were more like a walk through area.
Obviously covid has had its effect. Masks had to be worn inside unless seated at a table eating or drinking. The majority of people complied which was nice to see. Bar stools have been removed which made single socialising more difficult as you had to sit at a table on your own.
Cabins were only serviced in the morning and not at night which I didn’t actually mind. Food was very good although the evening menu has been revised a bit. There are still the daily staple prawn cocktail, tomato soup, steak and salmon, ice cream etc. It has been split into Chef recommendation (starter, main, desert) on one page then the rest on the other page. I stayed on the same table for 1 every night and the waiters were fantastic. They would bring me whatever I wanted. If portions were really small, they would double them up. At times I had to stop them doing it. I went to Sindhu which was a bit disappointing. Food is still broken down into starter, main and dessert, however each course item is priced separately and there is no in-between amuse bouche etc. As a result it has turned into more like a high end high street Indian restaurant, rather than a dining experience. The selection of food seemed to be more English (lamb shank, roast beef) rather than Indian based. When I asked about it they said it was due to customer responses. The food was nice though. I went to the Limelight Club, another dining experience. It was £25 extra and for that you got for special meal followed by a cabaret just for the diners. I went and saw Toyah. She was fantastic.
The ports of call were good. We were a little delayed into Cadiz due to an engine problem but they delayed the departure. Civitavecchia was cancelled so we called into Alicante instead. In some ports you had to show your vaccine certificate to go into a restaurant. If you wanted to get off in Gibraltar you had to pay £18 for a covid test. I didn’t bother. I have been to Gib a lot of times before and we docked at 8:00 and left at 1:30. Bars, shops etc. don’t open until 10:00-11:00 so for me, it wasn’t worth it for a couple of hours.
Entertainment was mediocre. There were the Headlines but I didn’t go to see them as the seats in the theatre are too small. There was a house band, Pulse, who were ok, a girl singer 6/10, a girl singer/guitarist 5/10 and a pianist in the atrium 6/10. Daytime entertainment was typical. Loads of seminars on spa treatment and jewellery, all trying to flog stuff.
There was an app for you to use to monitor your account, book meals and places in queues (freedom dining). It was ok but needs a lot more development.
Prices were good, pub prices really, apart from bottled water. Gone are the 1.5L bottles of sparkling or still water. Instead they have brought in 330ml metal recyclable bottles in bars or 500ml cans from room service. The 330ml bottles were £2.85 EACH!! I don’t know how much the room service cans were but room service added an extra £2.50 delivery charge. As a result I bought 1.5L bottles in port and brought them on board – no issues with that.
Weather was pretty good. We had a bit of rain in Alicante in the morning, seas were calm with one ‘wobbly’ day in the BoB on the way back. We docked at 6:00 on Friday. I carried my own bags off at 6:45 and was home by 07:30 – pretty good.
So all in all, an enjoyable cruise. I would probably go on Britannia again but as a last resort. The verdict is out on if I would go on Iona, the bigger ship. I guess my choice will be determined by ships leaving from Southampton and where their destinations
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